Bigger, longer, heavier: The Freedom Ship

The quest to build bigger ocean-going vessels didn’t stop with the Titanic; it’s still going.

Although it’s the ocean going cruise ships that steal the headlines, the biggest and longest vessels plying the world’s ocean routes are still cargo ships: the current record holder is the Maersk Triple E Class container ship that comes in at just under 400m in length at 399m. In fact, it’s not just one vessel, it’s actually twenty identical ships in service around the world, the first of which launched in 2013.

freedom ship

There have been longer ships, for example the Seawise Giant, an oil tanker which was in service from 1979 to 2009 and measured a whopping 458m from stern to bows, as well as at least another six ships, now also broken up, that measured more than 400m from front to back.

The Maersk Triple E class ships cost a cool US$950M each (Aussie Boat Loans wasn’t involved in this boat finance project) and use a new technology called ‘slow steaming’ which lowers emissions by 50% and decreases fuel consumption by 37%. The trade off is a slightly lower cruising speed of 19 knots (35 kmh). The ships will be used primarily on the Europe/Asia routes via the Suez Canal, but they’re too deep to use the Panama Canal.

In 2017 the Triple E Class ships will lose their longest vessel crown to the Prelude FLNG (which stands for Floating Liquefied Natural Gas) which will be 488m long. It won’t be a container ship, but as the name implies, a tanker designed to transport LNG – stored at a temperature of -162°C – from gas fields off the coast of Australia to destinations around the world. The Prelude is designed to withstand Category 5 cyclones.

In comparison to these brutes, the longest cruise liner in the world, the Queen Mary II, comes in at a mere 345m. Built at a cost of US$900M, the QMII plies its regular transatlantic route between Southampton in the UK and New York, a trip that takes about a week.

But if a US based consortium can get the project off the ground (no pun intended), the Freedom Ship will put all of these other big ships in the shade. Designed to be a floating city with 40,000 inhabitants, the Freedom Ship will be a colossal 4,500 feet (i.e. 1,372m or 1.3km) in length, making it four times longer than the Queen Mary II. Circumnavigating the globe (see the map here) every two years, the ship will be able to accommodate up to 100,000 people, including the 40,000 residents, 20,000 crew and another 40,000 daily visitors and hotel guests.

The floating city would rise 25 stories above the main deck to a height of 106m and would house all the facilities you’d expect in a small town or city: schools, a hospital and a library, even small scale manufacturing plants, alongside retail shops, hotels, restaurants and the inevitable casino.

Side view of the Freedom Ship
Freedom Ship side view

The top deck will be a runway suitable for commercial aircraft capable of carrying up to 40 passengers and the vessel will also have its own ‘port’ with a fleet of hydrofoils to carry passengers and residents to and from the port the Freedom Ship is moored off.

Blofeld eat your heart out.

Image credit: Freedom Ship

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