10 YD 171

The YD 171 was considered a work horse during World War II. At the time it was the world’s largest self-propelled floating crane. Even today, it is considered to be an engineering marvel. The YD 171 is most famous for being towed all around the world for use after the war ended. Believe it or not, It was instrumental in helping to rebuild parts of Germany in the late 1940’s.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

9 Hermod: Semi-Submersible

The Hermod is the sister of the Balder (see next). The crane was built in the 1970’s but it was not until the 1980’s that it set world lift records with in the North Sea. Much like the Balder, the Hermod has two cranes that can operate simultaneously. While using both cranes at the same time, the Hermod can lift up to 9,000 tons. This crane is still in use today and is considered as good now as it was when it was first put together over thirty years age.

Source: Max Mueller

Source: Max Mueller

8 Balder: Semi-Submersible again

You got it. The Balder is the world’s biggest semi-submersible crane. The best part about the balder is that it actually is two cranes that can be used in conjunction with each other. The first crane can lift up to 4,000 tons and the second one can lift up to 3,000 tons. One notable project that the Balder was on is the installation of the BP Thunder Horse. The Thunder Horse is the world’s largest semi-submersible platform.

7 Asian Hercules II

The Asian Hercules II is best known for Gateshead Millennium Bridge into place all at once. Can you imagine? Most cranes would have to lift the bridge into place in smaller pieces. This engineering marvel took care of it in one sitting. I think the name “Hercules” is fitting considering how strong and powerful this crane really is. The best part is that it is still being used today at different locations all over the world.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

6 Finnieston Crane: A Marvel for its Time

The Finnieston crane was completed in 1932 and used all the way up to the 1990s. Its primary function was to basically lift and move heavy machinery during construction products. Even though this crane doesn’t get much use today, it is still one of the biggest in the world. After all, it can lift around 200 tons at once! Right now the crane is in Glasgow and is revered by the people of the area. The crane is seen by the citizens as a symbol of the strong engineering heritage that the area has.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

5 Metka Making History

Metka designed and launched the world’s largest port crane in the late 1990’s. Upon completion, the crane was sold to Holland and used for some pretty awesome things. To start, it was used to make platforms for the Patriot Missile Launching System. Could you imagine how history may have been changed if this massive crane would have never been built? Hat’s off to Metka and their engineers for coming up with this bad boy.

Anyone know where to find a picture of this beast?

4 Crane Vessel Redefined

The Saipem 7000 is the second biggest crane vessel in existence- only trumped by the Thialf. Though never attempted, it is thought that this beast of a crane could lift over 14,000 tons if it had to. On a normal day the crane lifts 7,000 ton objects with ease- not a bad day’s work. Constructed over a two year period in the 1980’s the Saipem 7000 was first used by a Brazilian oil company. It is still in use today on projects all over the world.

3 Crane Vessel Redefined: Part II

The Thialf is the absolute biggest crane vessel in existence today. It was constructed back in the 1980’s and is still being used around the world today. What has it done you ask? Well, for starters it set a world record in 2000 by lifting over 11,000 tons at once! In addition to that, it has been used to install pylons for new bridge construction all over the world. Here’s an interesting fact: the Thialf crane can accommodate up to 736 people at one time.

2 Gantry Crane 2.0

Have you heard of Taisun? Probably not, but it’s ok. In short, this is the world’s biggest gantry crane. It can easily lift 20,000 metric tons in the blink of an eye. The crazy thing is that this behemoth of a crane took seven whole years to plan out and another year just to prepare its frame. Think about this: the Taisun can lift ten thousand cars in one single lift. What does that mean? More efficiency as well as a reduced need for man power which will save us all money in the long run.


Source: Wikimedia Commons


The Kockums Crane was originally put together in a Kockums shipyard in Sweden. This monster of a crane was painted orange and used up until 2002 to move giant objects round at will. The Kockums was capable of lifting up to 1,500 tons at one time and could accomplish this in a matter of minutes. The crane itself weighed in at an impressive 7,500 tons! At one point it was used to lift entire sections of a bridge- A task it accomplished with ease.

image source

About the author: Alex has written this article for Paterson Simons. A leading provider of forklifts and cranes in Ghana and West Africa.

List by: | November 19, 2011 | Technology

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  1. The YD171 was one of three cranes built by Germany during WWII. One was destroyed in the war, the second one, the British tried towing across the English Channel and it sunk, and the third was towed out of the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic, through the Panama canal( scraping both sides) up to Long Beach CA, where it has reamined until this day. My father, William Sawyer Hanson of Weymouth and Whitman Massachusetts was the last living crew member on the US ship that towed it that full distance and I have pictures of it, from when he and my mother visited Long Beach in the 1980’s

  2. Cool list! I love the pictures. Did you now that Konecranes is going to build the largest Goliath Gantry crane in the world? You can read about it here: http://bit.ly/HapfcJ

  3. The Thialf and the Saipem 7000 mentioned above are semi submersibles as well as the Balder and Hermod. Therefore the Thialf ,(Heerema) and previously the DB102(McDermot under the JV Venture Heeremac) is the largest.



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