The Freedom Ship
April 6, 2003 2:12 PM   Subscribe

The Freedom Ship is a testament to what human beings can accomplish if they put their minds to it. How Stuff Works gives us a good description on all the details. The ship will feature a $200 million hospital, a 3,800-foot (1,158-m) landing strip, which will serve private planes and some small commercial aircraft that carry no more than 40 passengers, hangars for private aircraft, a marina for residents' yachts, a large shopping mall, a school system offering K-12 and college education, a golf driving range, bicycle paths, and 200 open acres for recreation.
posted by ashbury (36 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How real is this - I mean, it was clearly being talked about a year ago, and I wonder if it's just a pipe dream...
posted by jonson at 2:31 PM on April 6, 2003

Yeah, where "pipe dream" = "complete scam to get people to give you millions of dollars." Most reports on it say that the possibilities of this really being a seafaring ship are dubious, at best.
posted by slacy at 2:41 PM on April 6, 2003

Wow. I can't believe they're still going to push this baby out. I'll be really impressed if it comes to light. A terrorist's dream, if bacteria doesn't force residents to flee prematurely.

Considering the costs of upkeep on co-ops on land worth the same sum, I think I can safely say that I couldn't afford the maintenance fees on one of those apartments.

I wonder, since they plan on being in dock at major cities 70% of the time, why they feel it is necessary to devote the entire upper deck to aircraft. If only 40 passenger aircraft are going to be using it, couldn't these people just use a pontoon plane or something?
posted by Busithoth at 2:41 PM on April 6, 2003

Gated-communities and private security ain't enough for the rich folks now? Sounds like a luxury prison ship for the over-privileged. What a fecking nightmare.
posted by squealy at 2:42 PM on April 6, 2003

Is it just me, or does a gigantic wafer cookie not seem like a terribly bright concept for a sea-worthy vessel? I dunno, little things like hurricanes and being an ocean-going mile-long skyscraper kinda worries me.

In addition to all of these benefits, Freedom Ship will also be environmentally friendly, according to its developers. There will be no sewage treatment plant and no sewage to spill. The ship will use incinerator toilets, which cost about $3,000 apiece, to burn all sewage. The ashes will be put in the flower beds.

While that a sweet little honey of an image, won't that stink to high heaven?
posted by nelleish at 2:42 PM on April 6, 2003

I remembered reading about it a while back as well, but under the "updates" section it does appear progress is being made and they're hoping to launch in march of 2007. I think I'd be more inclined to guess that it'll never happen, but I wouldn't be completely surprised if it did.
posted by Wingy at 2:43 PM on April 6, 2003

In terms of aesthetics, I prefer Nexus:Mobile Floating Sea City or Cities in the Sea as envisioned by The Venus Project. Another favorite is Sea City, circa 1971 which unfortunately seems to be down right now.

I wonder if it's just a pipe dream...
It's important to do your homework and ask practical questions like "How much is the ocean worth?"
posted by snez at 2:53 PM on April 6, 2003

to heck with trying to afford even an "economy unit" overlooking the bilge on this thing. let's all apply to be yeoman purser!
posted by steef at 3:08 PM on April 6, 2003

A floating city centered around a giant shopping mall, inhabited by rich people living in finite space with little potential for storage. Where do you put all the stuff you're expected to buy?

I envision huge barges traveling to port, loaded with items that people have donated so that they have room for new things. Sweatshop workers wearing $300 silk shirts and Nike tennis shoes. This is going to be totally awesome.
posted by Hildago at 3:12 PM on April 6, 2003

Apparently grammar, spelling, and proofreading aren't a high priority on the Freedom Ship...
posted by UKnowForKids at 3:19 PM on April 6, 2003

Note that the ship will set sail on April 1, 2007
posted by Orik at 3:36 PM on April 6, 2003

Kinda reminds me of The Raft in Snow Crash...
posted by thebabelfish at 3:37 PM on April 6, 2003

hey, as long as it cuts down on the SUV traffic ashore...
posted by Vidiot at 3:42 PM on April 6, 2003

Um , it is only 'a testament to what human beings can accomplish if they put their minds to it' if they actually do it. Which they have not yet. So far, about all it is is a testament to what Microsoft FrontPage 5.0 can do.
posted by benh57 at 3:49 PM on April 6, 2003

I'm sure icebergs everywhere are licking their lips in anticipation.
posted by rudyfink at 3:50 PM on April 6, 2003

benh57, you are quite right. I should have said "...would be a testament..."

Personally, I think that a project like this, while admirable in its scope and vision, is simply another way of dividing the rich from the not rich, and the world needs that like it needs another war. It certainly wouldn't/isn't being built for an average person such as myself. So perhaps I should amend my original statement to read "is a testament to human greed, and conspicuous consumption, while being at the same time a modern engineering marvel to marvel any of the Wonders of the World.
posted by ashbury at 4:08 PM on April 6, 2003

nelleish: I've used incinerator toilets for extended periods of times on expeditions (the 'incinolet') and I've found they work pretty well. There's basically no smell and they produce a surprisingly small amount of ashes.
posted by adrianhon at 4:18 PM on April 6, 2003

Any engineering types out there who'd care to tell us how much CO2 a hundred 3700-horsepower diesel engines would generate?
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:28 PM on April 6, 2003

adrianhon: I figured they wouldn't use them if they really were offensive to the nose. Doesn't really match up with the idea of a luxury floating city. Just the image of burning human refuse was just a bit much for this little mind.
posted by nelleish at 4:37 PM on April 6, 2003

I've been watching this for about five years now. They've not made much visible progress - and they've left a number of questions unanswered such as how the thing will be resupplied underway, and how stuff would even be affordable on board.

As far as being crew goes - mmmph. Nah. If their smallest family residential unit's 600 square feet, can you imagine what luxury must await the crew?

posted by JB71 at 4:44 PM on April 6, 2003

I believe this is an out-and-out fraud - I could be wrong, but there are too many coincidences in this interesting bit of research:

- The admin contact for is listed as Eric Chia and the tech contact is listed as Steve Buehler (per whois.) A company name of "i2bs" is given under his name (and the name of the tech contact.) The domain is registered through
- Both individuals also provide an e-mail address - but it's through another domain, is a vitamin huckster site, pushing anti-aging and anti-addiction concoctions. There's an "Eric Szia" on staff as a VP and Steve Buehler is the Technical Director for the company (per their web site.)
- The domain is also registered to (guess who) Eric Chia and Steve Buehler. The company, i2BusinessSolutions, touts itself as a partner of the Freedom Ship project - but it's run by both of these chuckleheads.
- An Eric Chia also works for a company called Browsersoft, Inc. Their site,, is also registered through
- All of the companies named above are based in Kansas, in close proximity to each other.
- All of these companies run off the same servers.
posted by FormlessOne at 5:35 PM on April 6, 2003

Maybe it's because I'm not a seasoned, money coming out my arse investor, but if I were told "We are selling this document for $350 per copy for domestic delivery. Overseas delivery costs $400" for a book and a DVD that's one big investment commercial... No deal Slappy.

If FreedomShip is not a scam, then I sincerely feel sorry for the engineers working on it because their management is marketing it like a scam. Lose lose.
posted by Tacodog at 6:10 PM on April 6, 2003

And what's up with the major Freedom-Ship-cock-sucking from How Stuff Works? I wonder if he sank some cash into this "investment opportunity."

Off-topic, I used to think that Marshall Brain (the guy behind HSW) seemed rather cool, until I saw his book, The Teenager's Guide to the Real World, which gives the youth of today such useful tips as "Men tend to rely more on rational thought, while women rely more on feelings," and "The purpose of sex is to create a baby," and "In the grand scheme of things, teenagers are insignificant." He also counsels teens who want to become adults to buy a suit and wear it every day for a month - suits have a magical quality, apparently, that makes you grow up within a month.
posted by UKnowForKids at 7:29 PM on April 6, 2003

UKnowForKids: Anyone who's recommending books by "Dr." Laura Schlessinger sets off warning bells in my head.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:51 PM on April 6, 2003

Cruise ships are known for showing up at otherwise hard to get too places and destroying them because they unload tons of people with tons of problems the locals are not setup to handle. This beast would be like air-dropping 60,000 people wherever it went. Not to mention the environmental damage despite what they say it would leave a swath of death behind it wherever it went. And when sickness hits, Norwalk would take over the ship even with a hospital.

FormlessOne -- good research

They also don't mention recurring costs, just one-time build costs. The cost to run a boat per year is usually about %25 of the purchase price as a standard rule of thumb (fuel, repairs, etc..)
posted by stbalbach at 8:21 PM on April 6, 2003

Scam or not, I find a certain sick fascination with the idea of the world's uber rich all inhabiting such a beast.

At the same time.

At sea.

When it breaks up and sinks with all hands in a storm, the rest of us couldn't help but to be better off. 8)
posted by Cerebus at 8:26 PM on April 6, 2003

The ship will use incinerator toilets, which cost about $3,000 apiece, to burn all sewage. The ashes will be put in the flower beds.

uh-huh. If this ship is truly aimed at the market of the super-rich, perhaps super-stars, wouldn't all the extra "chemicals" imbibed, exitting one way or another impact the quality of the ash?

Think of the flowers people!

Do these toilets flame the crap right there, or further down the system? I chuckle to think about the first-time some drunk uber-rich person hurls a load of half-digested alcohol and toggles "flush"....
posted by jkaczor at 11:48 PM on April 6, 2003

Although doubts have been raised about Freedom Ship, there is another: The World from a company called ResidenSea. It's an ultra-luxurious cruise ship, though at a mere 650 feet it's far from the largest in the category (new ones are more than 1000 feet long). Instead of being filled with tiny cabins, it has 110 condominiums (as well as a section with regular cabins, to balance revenues and keep ship life more interesting). Ship life reviewed. It's launched and traveling the world, at the whims (more or less democratic) of its residents. There's an hour-long profile that runs occasionally on the Travel Channel.

The World has most of the amenities of Freedom Ship, without the bombastic political rhetoric.
posted by dhartung at 2:03 AM on April 7, 2003

But..but...without the bombastic, neoutopian, technopagan, arrrrh!-make-him-walk-the-gangplank, latter-day-Randian rhetoric, what you're talking about's just a buncha rich people living under an active flight deck.

And that's barbaric!
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:18 AM on April 7, 2003

From The World website:

"To reside in this private at-sea community exploring the world, select your tastefully designed, fully furnished apartment on your preferred deck. Initial entrance for ownership begins with two-bedroom, two-bath apartments commencing at $2,255,000 USD."

Sweet. That's about what I expect to make, you know, in my life time. And since I've only made a few thousand of that thus far, I wonder if they'd let me buy against my lifetime worth...
posted by kaibutsu at 3:13 AM on April 7, 2003

I worked for a real estate trade magazine 5 years ago and was researching Freedom Shio=p back then, partly because it seemed ridiculous and partly to write about it for the magazine. They sent me a whole press kit on it and everything, but I could not get ahold of anyone associated with the project for an actual interview. They sent quotes I was free to use, but no one was willing (or free) to talk on record about the project. And this was 5 years ago.

And my reaction is still the same now. heh heh. Freedom Ship.
posted by archimago at 8:34 AM on April 7, 2003

Didn't Discovery Channel do a show based on this? I remember the guy behind it being kind of an old guy and thinking "you know, I designed ships like this too...when I was 12..."
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:20 AM on April 7, 2003

It's a shame floating cities are being associated with the uber-rich because of nutjobs like this. It always seemed to me that a traveling flotilla of small boats with a couple of central platforms with offices and shops would be interesting and fairly affordable. I lived on a boat for a while and it was the cheapest I've ever lived.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:48 AM on April 7, 2003

one word: Pirates.

finally, work for all the laid-off dotcommers.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:56 PM on April 7, 2003

Johnny Assay: I get about 1.7 to 2.0 thousand tones (metric) of CO2/hour. That's about equal to driving a Golf TDI 8 million km (or a Pickup about half that).

These people sould seriously think about nuclear power.
posted by bonehead at 4:20 PM on April 7, 2003

I hear it was originally going to be called, "The French Ship."
posted by webmutant at 7:32 PM on April 7, 2003

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