When it comes to RoRo vessels, few can compete with the mighty Thermopylae. As one of the world’s biggest vehicle carriers, this deep-sea long-haul vessel can travel 63,000km without refuelling, boasts an impressive 13 decks and can carry up to 8,000 cars at one time.
And so impressive is her size that she was recently featured on Monster Ships, a Discovery Channel documentary series featuring some of the world’s biggest vessels.
The episode in question shows Captain Hitinder Singh and his 24-strong crew facing a number of challenges – from national strikes and spot safety assessments to a record-breaking change of one of the engine’s 1.5 tonne pistons.
When we first meet the crew, they’re preparing to berth at Bremerhaven in northern Germany. With 20-metre-high waves and strong winds threatening to knock the ship off course, the crew must pull out all the stops to steer the vessel safely into port.
But that’s only the first hurdle. Next up, 700 vehicles, including heavy diggers and dust-wrapped cars, need to be loaded in less than 12 hours via Thermopylae’s ramp, which, at 390 tonnes, is five times heavier than NASA’s Endeavour space shuttle.
This is all in a day’s work for Thermopylae’s crew, who are no strangers to tight time constraints and choppy waters. And now, for the first time ever, those who want to peek behind-the-scenes can come along for the ride.