BC’S Tales of the Pacific | A floating city at sea

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THE stuff of fiction, you say. 

Not if the designers at Freedom Ship have their way.  Picture a giant floating barge a mile long and almost a quarter mile wide, standing twenty-five stories tall, with an airport on the top and a complete city’s worth of business on the first several decks.  Picture 80,000 permanent residents and thousands more visitors who come for short stays.

This is no cruise ship.  The Freedom Ship is the latest in a long line of attempts to place humans permanently at sea.  It is a floating city, with everything needed for its citizens.  Housing, businesses, transportation, defense, grocery stores and restaurants, hospitals, schools, movie theaters and other entertainment, police and firefighting departments.  In short, everything needed for modern life is found on board, would have to be on board, because this floating city is completely free.  It belongs to no government or nation-state, although it abides by the rules of international law and maritime law.  In many ways, the Freedom Ship is its own country.  And it never stops.

The Freedom Ship would circle the globe every two years, stopping at significant port cities along the way, but never stopping for long.  It is a nation unto itself.  Those who would like to experience living aboard a permanent floating city can visit the Freedom Ship and stay at one of the many hotels.  If they find the life desirable, they may apply for residency. 

Perhaps you are the type of person who lives in the northern climates during summer and tropical climates in the winter.  Freedom Ship would give you that flexibility.  The global route has been carefully selected to avoid unpleasant weather.  No more typhoons, monsoons or blizzards. 

Perhaps you live in a war-torn country that cannot seem to rise above violence and destruction.  Freedom Ship will never declare war on any nation, nor would any nation ever have reason to declare war on it.  Its citizens would come from across the spectrum of mankind, so ancient loyalties and ties to particular regions of land would become meaningless.     

From the website of the current Freedom Ship visionaries: “As it circumnavigates the world, Freedom Ship would make a series of offshore stops, including exotic tropical islands accessible only by sea. These stops would provide the ship's residents and entrepreneurs with extensive and varied touring and business opportunities, and bring a continual stream of visitors to the ship to patronize its shops, restaurants, and entertainment facilities. The ship would provide as many as 40,000 tourists to ports around the world. These cities and countries would eagerly anticipate this influx, as well as the major market the ship represents for local farmers, fishermen, and merchants. Stopover schedules would be based on business volume and touring popularity. Customers, merchants, businessmen, and residents would be able to utilize the ship's fleet of aircraft and hydrofoils, as well as commercial commuter airlines, to come and go from the ship even between stopovers.”

Although the idea of Freedom Ship sounds futuristic, the concept of a floating city is surprisingly old.  In the 1890s, Jules Verne wrote about a city on a gigantic ship that travelled around the Pacific.  In the 1960s, Buckminster Fuller proposed floating cities to alleviate population pressures and free land for agricultural use. 

The Freedom Ship has not been built yet, but the concept actually exists today in much smaller form.  MS The World is the largest privately owned residential yacht, with over two hundred permanent residents living in 165 separate residences, and hundreds more visitors annually.  In many ways, Freedom Ship is simply taking what The World has already done and greatly magnifying it.

Does living in a giant floating city appeal to you?  Visit the website of Freedom Ship and get a glimpse of what that life might really be like.




BC Cook, PhD lived on Saipan and has taught history for 20 years. He currently resides on the mainland U.S.