The proposed Freedom ship, which would be three times the size of the world's current largest ship and be composed of half a dozen supertanker-sized barged-like modules.

Tech Level: 12
Mobile Modular Seabase
Tech Level: 12

Tech Level: 12

Megaships are an outgrowth of ever-larger ship designs, exemplified by super-carriers like the USS Enterprise and luxury liners like the Queen Elizabeth II, each designed to hold many thousands of passengers and crew. Ultra-large cargo vessels are also coming online that will easily be able to match these ships in sheer size. A new class of megaship, built on a scale dwarfing even these vessels, are being planned that could become the sea-borne equivalent of arcologies.

The Freedom Project, the most well-publicized civilian endeavor along those lines, envisions a massive vessel 4,500 feet along its beam, making it nearly a mile long and four times the size of the Queen Mary. It is designed to hold no less than 100,000 people at any one time, including 40,000 full time residents and 20,000 permanent crew, with the rest as passengers and visitors. The builders plan on having, among other facilities, first-class hotel accommodations, a casino, a fully-equipped hospital, a school system, and the world's largest duty-free shopping mall.

One would think a ship that size would crack in two just from its sheer bulk. However, the Freedom ship would not really be one solid unbroken hull, but over a dozen separate aircraft-sized modules. Each module floats independently, much like a ten-story-tall barge, joined to the others at many decks via seamless gimbaled joints but maintaining enough flexibility along its dimensions to absorb and dampen wave effects.

The ship, the groundwork for construction of which is already being put into place, would slowly circumnavigate the globe every three years, stopping not only at major ports but also at many islands accessible only by sea. It would be powered by 100 individual diesel engines each capable of 3700 horsepower.

If megaships such as the Freedom project become a reality, the oceans could become dotted with such vehicles, providing potentially stable platforms and ports of call even thousands of kilometers from shore. Between megaships and artificial islands, another Tech Level 12 innovation, colonization of the oceans may become a reality as never before in history, with a network of megaships and floating ports of call independent of land-bound nations.

One of the major drawbacks of a megaship is that there are very few, if any, ports or harbors constructed to be able to accommodate such behemoths. This could make maintenance and repairs problematic and indeed may be one of the major limiting factors in whether megaships become a widespread technology. However, the economic allure of these megaships could also prove a powerful incentive to modify ports to cater to them.

Such Megaships would also be able to move only very slowly even under the best conditions.

Tech Level: 12

The US military is also looking into developing a similar-sized vessel to the Freedom project ship, but one whose individual modules would sail separately and then assemble into a mega-sized ocean-going air base. Its assembled size and configurations would be similar to that of the Freedom Project ship. This would allow the individual modular vessels to move much more quickly to a destination, and assemble into a long mega-carrier on the spot as needed.

One advantage of this idea over the standard megaship is that the individual module vessels can be repaired and undergo routine maintenance at many already-existing ports.


article added 4/30/07