California Maritime Academy Welcomes Seasteading on Campus

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Institute staff in front of the California Golden Bear, the Academy’s training ship. Each summer, cadets get hands-on experience in their field of study.
(Left to right: Randolph Hencken, Charlie Deist, George Petrie)

The Seasteading Institute was recently invited to present our mission to students and faculty at the California Maritime Academy, one of seven degree-granting maritime programs in the United States. The Academy is located in Vallejo, California, conveniently close to our Oakland office, and we have been privileged to build relationships with both student volunteer researchers and faculty advisors over the past several months.

Our presentation reached over 100 cadets, encouraging them to join us in exploring the potential for seasteads to transform the ocean industry with a mixture of vision, technology, and pragmatism. Cadets Ben Harmon and Ryan Larsen have previously volunteered, and both gave talks at this past summer’s Seasteading Conference, on security and aquaculture respectively. We are already engaging new projects with students who attended our talk, and expect to publish new maritime-related research within the next few months.

If maritime technology had ceased to evolve at the founding of U.S. Constitutional Democracy…

Executive Director Randy Hencken introduced the big picture of why we aim to enable seasteads in the first place. On one slide, he compared governance technology to maritime technology, pointing out that very few students in the room would be satisfied working within the constraints of 18th century ships and submarine equipment. Next, Research & Communications Coordinator Charlie Deist explained how the Institute’s legal and business strategies aim to clarify the realm of opportunity as it actually is, not as we wish for it to be. Lastly, Director of Engineering George Petrie presented the Institute’s five-year development plan for meeting the physical structure and basic material needs of a permanent ocean-based community.

Our campus tour included a voyage in one of the Academy’s ship simulators, equipped with accurate ship controls and 3D models of the SF Bay. Although the simulator remained stationary, the visuals made for a highly realistic “outing.”

After the talk, we spoke one-on-one with the most enthusiastic students and enjoyed a stimulating conversation over lunch with faculty members Dr. Donna Nincic and Stephen Kreta. Dr. Nincic, Chair of the Global Studies and Maritime Affairs department, had just returned from Italy, where she advised an inter-governmental committee working to mitigate piracy off the coasts of Africa. She explained how poor ocean resource management is worsening the piracy problem, and described the extra effort now required by ships to fend off attacks. We are lucky to have allies and advisors with such extensive experience in ocean-related matters, and hope that seasteading will soon contribute new ideas for sustainable development of our oceans. Having the attention of maritime experts and future experts represents a major milestone on the road to seasteads; our warm reception at CMA and post-conference news coverage (see here, here and here) are a strong indication of the direction in which we are headed.

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