Freedom Ship is a floating city project initially proposed in the late 1990s. It was so named because of the "free" international lifestyle facilitated by a mobile ocean colony, though the project would not be a conventional ship, but rather a series of linked barges.
The Freedom Ship project envisions a 1800 m (1.118 mi)-long integrated city with condominium housing for 80,000 people, a hospital, school system, hotel, casino, commercial and office occupancies, duty-free shopping and other facilities, large enough to require rapid transit. The complex would circumnavigate the globe continuously, stopping regularly at ports of call.
Despite early press coverage in Popular Mechanics and an article in Newsweek, as well as radio coverage on NPR's Weekend Edition, and a video documentary on Discovery Channel's Extreme Engineering, the project has seen few recent developments. Although the initially stated in-service date was to be 2001, no construction had begun as of January 2019.
Freedom Ship International initially estimated the net cost for construction to be US$6 billion in 1999. However, by 2002, estimates had risen to US$11 billion. A July 2008 press release explained the difficulty of obtaining reliable financial backing. In November 2013, the company announced that the project, now with an estimated price of US$10 billion, was being resurrected, though that construction had not yet begun. In 2016, the project affiliated with Kanethara Marine in India due to interest on the part of the Indian government to be the base of the ship's construction operations.
The basic idea had been published by Jules Verne in his novel Propeller Island. No technical details were given, but the book includes the idea of building a gigantic raft. The main aim of the project was saving taxes, as the Island would move around the world on an annual basis.
Other projects, such as the ResidenSea, have similarly attempted to create mobile communities, though they have conservatively limited themselves to the constraints of conventional shipbuilding. In regards to the economic flexibility and "freedom" created by such mobile settlements, these projects could be considered a realization of the avant-garde Walking City concept from 1964, by British architect Ron Herron of the group Archigram. The Freedom Ship also served as the inspiration for (and is closely resembled by) the Libertania, a mobile ship depicted in Grant Morrison's comic book The Filth. In the 1950s, Buckminster Fuller also proposed "floating cities" approximately a mile wide that could accommodate up to 50,000 permanent inhabitants. Mike Wallace interviewed Buckminster Fuller on TV regarding this "floating cities" concept, which Fuller explained would free up land needed for agriculture and industrial uses.
- Seasteading, a concept applying homestead principles to the ocean, is a related process
- Azimuth thruster, the proposed drive method
- Robert Trigaux, "Water World", sfgate.com, from St. Petersburg Times, 5 July 1999.
- Floating Cities at How Stuff Works; a discussion of floating cities using Freedom Ship as its example
- "Floating City". NPR Weekend Edition. 13 April 2002.
- Official website
- Collected Critical Comments on the Freedom Ship project by Patri Friedman of the Seasteading Institute
- "Floating Utopias", a critical look at the project and associated utopian schemes by China Miéville for In These Times
- Floating Cities, Islands and States A paper written by Alexander Bolonkin from a physics perspective using Freedom Ship as an example and providing technical information