We’ve recently been writing about Freedom Ship, which if built would be the biggest ship of all time a few times over. We wrote an introduction to Freedom Ship, and we also speculated about what life would be like on board Freedom Ship. You’ll notice that we wrote “if built” above, and this is an essential part of the Freedom Ship project – at this point, it is merely a dream, one that almost certainly won’t be realized any time soon. The biggest ship of all time is as of now not a ship at all; indeed, there is not even a finalized plan for the Freedom Ship’s design. Will Freedom Ship ever be built?
According to early press reports about Freedom Ship, the project was proposed in the late 90s. Over a decade has passed since then. If you visit Freedom Ship’s official website, you can click on the “Real Estate” tab to see what spaces are available for rent. This page explicitly says that the design is incomplete, as mentioned above, and all the prices and dimensions of the commercial and residential spaces haven’t been updated since 2002.
There is also a page on the official website that is dedicated to news about the ship. At this page, you won’t find any recent news (or really news at all), but you will find this optimistic declaration: “We are still moving forward, and getting a little closer every day.” On this same page there is a note indicating that Freedom Ship International Inc. is “welcoming joint venture inquiries to facilitate the construction phase of the First Mobile City at Sea.” Once more, though, the construction phase can hardly move forward until the ship’s design is complete. The ship has at least gone through a couple of design phases, but these “designs” so far consist only of some CGI graphics (or in any event this is all the website reveals). Essentially, there is a basic incongruity between the language of the website, which suggests that the project is in full swing, and the actual progress (or lack thereof) of the endeavor.
There were at least minimal signs of life on the Freedom Ship website until 2009, which is evidently the year when the copyright information at the bottom of the page was last updated. However, there are several email addresses listed on the page, so we tried to write to two of them. We tried to write to the general information email address, the one that is listed after the customary if-you-have-any-questions-please-ask note, but we received a “failure to deliver” message after we sent it. We received the same “failure to deliver” message after we tried to contact the Media Relations email address. By all available indications, the project appears to have stalled, perhaps permanently, but at this point this is too much to claim.
Even if the Freedom Ship received adequate funding (and at bottom this seems to be the issue: if the project had enough funding, it would presumably be moving forward), is it a realistic ambition? The promotional materials for the project certainly promise a lot – e.g., the school and healthcare systems on board will provide the “world standard[s] for quality” (the website actually says this about both, using the exact same language) – and it seems very likely that not all of these promises will be met even if the project were completed. Also, it is not entirely clear how the ship would endure extreme weather, like hurricanes and tsunamis. The proposed worldwide voyage of the ship does hew closely to the shoreline for the most part (but naturally oceans must be crossed), and the ship will also make offshore stops at (or maybe near) islands only accessible by sea. Also, according the Freedom Ship website, the “vessel’s proposed flat bottom hull construction, along with its extraordinary size, would result in unmatched and unprecedented stability providing a smooth ride in the roughest seas,” but that is all that is said about weather-related concerns, and we’re sure many people would want to hear more about the ship’s safety features before moving on board.
So, to answer the question we began with: we’re not sure if the biggest ship of all time will actually be built. At the moment, not much progress is being made, unless everything is being handled out of the public eye right now, which seems unlikely. And even if the project were moving along nicely, it’s not clear how successful the endeavor would prove to be. Would people actually want to live on a huge ship? Would the vessel actually be safe? There are dozens of other questions of a similar bent. What we can say is this: Freedom Ship is a crazy dream that is fascinating and even somewhat compelling, so we’ll keep our reader’s apprised of any new developments.