The incident with USS Donald Cook in the Baltic and its impications for seasteading

(Daniel Nagy) #1

This incident got a lot of media attention, but the explanations for what happened were mostly omitted by reporters. The Baltic Sea is completely carved up between littoral states into territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZ), there are no international waters there, according to the Law of the Sea Convention to which almost all coastal states in the world are parties with the notable exception of the U.S.

Military exercises are not allowed in EEZs without the permission of the corresponding littoral state, which is precisely what USS Donald Cook has been doing there with a Polish naval helicopter. It is worth noting that the Polish helicopter vacated the area immediately upon sighting a Russian naval helicopter, long before the jets showed up. The Polish government voiced no complaints about the Russian conduct.

Now, the Baltic Sea is particularly suited for seasteading, because it is one of the calmest seas in the world and its littoral states have very different economic and legal systems, with plentyful opportunities for jurisdictional arbitrage and profitable trade. Being inside an EEZ of a state, while it does pose certain restrictions (e.g. no military operations without permission), is almost like international waters. If the state gets nasty, it is easy to move to another EEZ, putting the littoral states in a competition for seasteads. Currently, international waters are essentially under U. S. jurisdiction, with the U. S. Navy “maintaining freedom of the seas”, which may well (and sometimes does) entail interfering with certain types of trade, perfectly legal in other jurisdictions. For example, they very often enforce various embargoes in international waters. Actually, other navies sometimes do that, too.

I believe – though I readily admit that it is debatable – that a seastead in an area with many respected EEZs, free to move between them, is safer from government interference than one in international waters. What do you think?


We’ve had lots of discussions about EEZ vs International waters, it basically will come down to an argument about how much freedom you want. Some people are fine with EEZ’s, some think that is still too limited.

(Jordan) #3

I think in the long-run it is too limited. However, I look at it like this. I don’t know if you’ve ever started seedlings inside and then moved them outside. If you start them inside, and then move them outside and leave them out there, even if they have a great mixture of water and sun, shade etc. They will likely die, because they are not hardened.

However, if you put them outside for a few hours, then bring them back in, and do that day after day for a few weeks, they harden and then you can put them outside permanently. Once they are able to survive outside permanently, they experience more growth, receive more nutrients from the sun, and are more successful. This process is in many ways better than just starting the seeds outside, because more of the seedlings survive in the long-run, even though it’s more work.

Having a seastead in an EEZ is like starting seedlings inside. It is safer at first, but once the seasteading movement is hardened, has learned its lessons, doesn’t need the protection of an EEZ, and is strong enough to benefit from the additional freedom of existing in international waters.

What do you think?


I’m just guessing there will be 2 main categories, those within EEZ’s and those outside them, based on who founds them and what they want.


Keep in mind, there are only a few of the so-called doughnut-holes outside EEZs, where potential mooring is at somewhat accessible depths… and even some of them are partially claimed, with enforcement by Navies.

Take, for instance, the doughnut-holes in the GoMex (gulf of Mexico)…

How affordable is 1/2 mile of rope and chain for mooring…? Where are you going to put it, if you decide to move?