Service life span of ships, no second life as seasteads

(Wilfried Ellmer) #1

Ships and barges are built for short service lifespans (15 years) and intense manainence shedules including expensive drydock stays - it is technology that works for industrial transport but does not work for permanent housing at sea. There is no second life as seasteads for old ships and barges.

After their service life is over they fall apart due to corrosion and fatigue cracks - scrap metal is the only use left to get out of them…

Owners consider them liabilities (due to slurry removal costs) rather than assets and just LOVE to give them away to ingenious “wana be seasteaders”.

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Give them away? Where do we get into line for these freebies?

(.) #3

@KatOnTri, Welcome back.

(Wilfried Ellmer) #4

especially those with large amount of asbestos in the engine room…

(.) #5

Liability is the price.


Maybe so, that steel ships won’t last long since they were not actually designed and built for seasteading. But Columbus discovered America sailing wooden boats,…

It is like saying, “I refuse to drive in a Chevy, I’ll wait till I buy a Cadillac.” OR “I won’t seastead on a cheap steel barge, I’ll wait till I can built a concrete one”.

If people really want to seastead, they can seastead on anything,…

Time and tide waits for nobody :smiley:

(.) #7

It is true that time and tide waits for no one.
I am not against steel barges.

(Wilfried Ellmer) #8

i am not against ships and steel barges either i earn good part of the money in my pocket from repairing them in the Cartagena Marine Cluster but i see a problem to come to phase1 investor conversation this way


Since this is your job Elmer, you can probably actually answer this. Including the maintanence costs and getting it into place, is a superannuated steel barge actually cheaper than a concrete one over, say, ten years?

I’m sceptical personally, but if there was potential to protect it with more durable materials in the long term then it might be worth while.

(Wilfried Ellmer) #10

in building cost per square meter the concrete barge is at least 4 times cheaper, in asset cost divided by service life years it is at least 10 times cheaper. But this is likley to go even more apart as the longest service lifes we can refer to are 200 years, but engineers expect that a service life of 2000 years for marine structures could be possible after cecking the perfectly conserved concrete of cesarea harbor…


I suspected so somehow.


Assuming you could provide enough current you could use cathodic protection/biorock accretion over a steel vessel that was no longer intended for movement. Two issues that come to mind, the need to retain bilge pumps and maintain the ballast tanks, and issues surrounding when the hull plates ‘fuse’ together as accreted material overtakes them. The long term benefit however is that even if you scuttled the ships later on because they were no longer feasible as accomodation strutures, they could then be used as reef starters to help shore up the sealife around your stead. Provisions would obviously need to be made to recycle any hazardous materials onboard before beginning the accretion process, but it could retain value in something that long term would likely value as junk.

(Wilfried Ellmer) #13

sounds like a “messy process” but if you really think it is a good idea try it with an old container and tell me how it went in your pilot project…


I’ll stick to screen and rebar for my experiments, but if somebody decides to go the ship route, it is an option.

(At ellmer’s suggestion see ‘Biorock accretion experiment’ thread, also in Engineering for the rest of this post.)

(Wilfried Ellmer) #15

@stedding101 please split the aggregation thing in a seperate topic - people will not look for this under the topic of ships…

(Larry G) #16

Another problem with re-purposing older ships to simply live on (as I looked into this some years back) is that it’s very difficult to certify the ships as seaworthy to get them registered under the flag of even the easier nations if they are older than a given age, as I recall around the late 1960s.

That may be different if you are registering them as personal craft rather than industrial purposes.


You raise an interesting point, the insurance vs flagging.

For registration purposes, if the ship is insured, is there any problem with it’s age?

For registration purposes, does it matter who insures it, or what the policy reads like?

I am thinking perhaps a benefactor could write a fairly useless but legal insurance policy that might help us. Maybe in the future, after the seastead was established, after risk data was collected in the real world, meaningful riders could be attached and it be a better policy.

What gives this idea some credibility is the seastead won’t ever be in a port, and shouldn’t be in shipping lanes. Plus the people aboard will bring their own lifeboats. These and other differences lean away from a standard ship policy.

(Wilfried Ellmer) #18

the core problem of any structure in marine steel plating is that when its service life is over it is REALLY over - means it falls appart due to rust and fatique cracking - there just is no second life - this is not for buerocratic reasons it is for real reasons. The only “possible use” left is scrap metal.


I’m afraid none of these will be good enough. Getting insurance will be an important part of credibility for a seastead. I’m sure all parties; the captain and crew, the passengers, and the flagging nation will require it. The Captain because he’s personally liable for the safety of those onboard. The passengers because they have an investment at risk. The flagging nation because it would be a PR nightmare to have a loss of life.

The idea that each passenger supplies their own lifeboat is not viable. First, if you are 100 miles from shore, then a lifeboat is only 50/50 chance of being survivable. Second, you can’t really trust people to actually maintain a seaworthy craft. The city is probably going to have to stock covered lifecraft like you see on cruise ships. I’ve been on one. They are pretty practical. They can hold about 40 people, and a are completely enclosed so they can handle very rough seas. I think life expectancy inside is more than 3 days in any weather, which is long enough for a rescue. A city of 1000 people would need 25 such lifeboats to handle all the residents.

Update. Oasis of the Seas uses 370 person lifeboats. We would only need 3 of these. Sweet.

I’m very excited about what they are built from: Fiberglass reinforced polyester. I’m really thinking this is the material we should build the seastead housing units from; foam core, with fiberglaass polyester or vinylester.


But you cannot talk of having credibility and a “flag of convenience” at the same time either. If the tie-up contract for Marinea was basically “be here at your own risk, we will all try to do our best at life”, given the things you don’t need to insure it against, it may come down to “we insure the foam blocks won’t sink, and the electricity is insulated, and the roofs don’t leak”, can you get a “reputable” contract for only that? You know some states allow you to self-insure your cars, right?

Honestly, i was talking about their own personal water transportation device. Their boat. In a marina, i expect they will be distributed all around the place, and if there’s 1000 people living there, and half have a boat, and each boat can carry 10, then that’s 5,000 person carrying capacity. They aren’t legal lifeboats, but if the seastead gets run over by a container ship (not on the Cay Sal Bank, it’s too shallow), i am going to get into any boat that floats.

While well done fiberglass is is good stuff, but i hear bad things about various cores, because you essentially have a double-hulled boat with thin hulls, not one thick hull. I heard when the storms come, the wood/foam cores get delaminated. Plus a crack in the outside can waterlog the core and spring a leak in the “inner hull” anywhere unrelated to where the outside water leak is. Plus it’s relatively soft and squishy, so a compression hole-thru cannot clamp against the inside and outside without crushing the core and crazing the inner and/or outer hull portions. And fiberglass is not the same as fibered polyester, but the goop used to hold the mesh together is less important as long as it isn’t porus. (Disclaimer: I am not a fiberglass aficionado, but i keep a supply of it on the shelf, and first used it in the early 1960’s. I will listen to the experts.)