The Den Haag is not nearly as big as the Empire State building. She is not even as big as the Eiffel Tower. But you wouldn't mistake her for a rowboat either. She is just 176 feet short of the majestic Queen Elizabeth. There is enough room between her bridge and her bow to line up 10 regulation bowling alleys or install 24 tennis courts. If she carried water instead of oil she could supply an American town of 3,000 people for a year. Fully loaded she can't get through the Suez Canal or into any harbor on the East Coast of the United States including New York. And when her officers or crew have to go forward they usually ride bicycles.
This last fact impresses visitors to the Den Haag more than statistics do. The sight of a weathered bosun or a dignified ship's master phlegmatically pedaling along the deck of a ship in mid-ocean is not only astonishing and amusing but conveys in a most graphic manner the size of today's tankers.
The Den Haag—that's Dutch meaning "The Hague"—was constructed by the Verolme United Shipyards in Rotterdam, at a cost of $18 million. Launched July 4, 1963, at a christening presided over by Princess Beatrix, the Den Haag, as the largest Dutch vessel afloat, was promptly crowned queen of the Dutch merchant fleet.
It is true, of course, that the new giant tankers being constructed will soon dwarf the Den Haag as the Den Haag now dwarfs the once huge T-2's of World War II. Yet the Den Haag is still a very large ship and her dimensions show why: length 855 feet, 10 inches; beam, 125 feet; draft 847 feet, six inches; capacity, 670,000 barrels; top speed 19 knots.
Her three cargo pumps can lift 11,000 gallons a minute. Her stripping pumps can drain her bilges at 1,400 gallons a minute. In case of fire her diesel pumps can pick up and throw 250 tons of sea water an hour. She carries three anchors each weighing 11 tons. The surface of the rudder totals 660 square feet and the rudder assembly weighs about 90 tons. In the engine room, behind walls of two-inch steel, two boilers generate 95,000 pounds of steam per hour—and can go to 150,000 pounds—at temperatures up to 860 degrees Fahrenheit. The turbine can produce up to 26,500 shaft horse power (SHP)—enough to spin a two-feet-thick and 67-feet-long propeller shaft and a 33-ton, 25-foot-bronze propeller at 108 rotations per minute, and enough to keep her going 11 miles after you shut off her steam.