Flotels in the World

This report from Lauritzen-Offshore demonstrates quite well how the flotes, floating hotels or accommodation vessels, are used in the offshore industry, and even how an old ship (in this case a cable layer) can be converted into a floating hotel. But the most interesting aspect for seasteading purposes is a map with the distribution of all types of accommodation vessels throughout the oceans.


Here is the map:

It is visible from the world map that the accommodation vessels are spread along the oceans, and there is more than one solution for each location under consideration: in the same location we can find semisubmersibles, ships and jack-ups. Here is what we can conclude:
  • Mono-hull Barges are only used in benign waters: West Africa and South Asia. This is quite obvious as the seakeeping performance of a barge is not so good as a semisubmersible or a ship. Therefore they are not suitable for harsh enviroments.
  • Semi-submersibles are used in almost all locations, but not in the benign waters where barges are used. This is be because they are an expensive option when you do not need such good seakeeping performance.
  • High spec mono-hulls (ships) are used worldwide in benign and harsh environments including the harsh area of North Sea. Therefore they are a good option for all the locations due to the versatility in operation: when a big storm is appearing, they can move quickly to avoid it. That is not the case of a mono-hull barge as they are not self-propelled. On the other side, the semisubmersible can resist the storm, but during calm periods it is a more expensive option than a ship.
It could be expected that for seasteading purposes the same will happen. There is more than one solution, but it depends mainly on two parameters:
– the location where the seastead is to be installed (which is the meteocean conditions)
– the necessity to stay put during big storms.
In any case, as it was suggested in this blog by Patri, the best locations seem to be the equatorial areas, and therefore a simple barge (in steel or concrete) could be enough for the first seastead.

7 thoughts on “Flotels in the World”

  1. Miguel,  There are several seasteading relevant aspects in the report.

    They claim that they can establish connections in open sea with two 50.000 ton structures for 82% of the time in harsh environment with a simple gangway that is just a bit longer (therefore flexibler)  than a standard gangway.

    Their bow loading sistem (for tankers) also seems to point into a different direction for a connection than Nkossa and Adriatic LNG does.

    Nkossa and Adriatic connect parallel Laurizen in 90 degree angle.

    The 200 USD/d cost figure (i assume it is person hosted per day) seems to be still prohibitive high for seasteading.



    European Submarine Structures AB

  2. For me the main interesting thing is the map, but of course also the vessel Dan Swift is interesting.

    This vessel is really operating in Campos Basin, offshore Brazil, an area with average Hs=3m. So we could consider it benign waters. During 83% of time they claim that the flotel can be connected to other platforms with the gangway.  So we could establish there, or in similar places, a community of shipstead connected between them.

    Regarding day rates, it is really 200,000 $/day for the complete vessel, including specialized offshore staff. But they are in offshore market, and oil companies are willing to pay for that. So we should not pay attention to that.

  3. …mono-hull ships!

    Barges are:

    • not seaworthy on the high seas
    • too slow to outrun storms
    • too expensive to position dynamically (too high drag, too much energy)
    • scarce on the second hand market

    semi-subs are:

    • expensive 
    • contains less space (volume)
    • scarce on the second hand market

    ships are:

    • seaworthy
    • able to outrun storms
    • cheap(er) to position dynamically
    • abundant and cheap on the market

    Some of these criteria may of course change in a potential later situation where money for big purpose built seastead projects is easy to raise.

    But right now the way to make something actually happen is to buy a used ship.

    I propose the following:

    1. Select a suitable candidate ship for sale.
    2. Make seastead IPO. Raise money by letting people invest in shares of the purchase price.
    3. When the full amount is raised, buy the ship. Now determine who gets what parts of the ship. Possibly by auction. The auction proceeds goes into the “public” ship budget.
    4. The public budget buys station keeping hardware (solar panels and thrusters, or deep sea anchor or whatever) and making only essential maintenance (leaks in the hull, keeping main engines and drive train working).
    5. Launch ship to wherever (by vote or according to plan decided before initial investment).
    6. Shareholders move in and refurbish (or not) as they see fit.
    7. Profit!
  4. Yes Carl, I am agree with you that ships could be a good alternative for short term,but if you are in benign waters (ecuatorial zones) a barge would be enough and much cheaper than a ship.

    A ship is most versatil if you plan travelling wordwide. But if your idea is to establish the seastead in calm waters for long periods, a barge with dynamic positioning is much more than enought. As you can see in the  report , there are a lot of flotel barges in the market. A newbuild barge in steel of 400 pax without DP costs around 35 USDm. I think that with DP it should not cost more than 40 USDm. And a newbuild shipwith same capacity would cost 100 USDm

    In any case, more research is needed with figures of all alternatives, both of CAPEX and OPEX!!

  5. Before declaring winning concepts we need to do the homework first.  Part of this homework is to collect realistic numbers on maintenance cost and cost of operation for each concept.

    Miguel has a very valid point that just the shape can make a difference in cost of 1:3

    When for oil industry a housing cost of 200USD/day / person is acceptable. For cruiseship industry only a cost of 120 USD/day/person is acceptable.

    Obviously people are not capeable to pay for permanent housing what they pay for a week of “once in a lifetime of cruiseship vacations”.

    So we have to lower from USD 120/day a factor ten at least. – what excludes ships as concept pretty much due to their high maintnance and operation cost.

    Only ultra low maintanence and ultra low operation cost concepts are in the feasibility range for permanent housing purpose.  This is why all those old and surplus ships on the market go to scrap metal use and are NOT converted to housing solutions.

    Of course we could focus on offers for “exceptional wealthy segments” to circumnavigate the cost factor, but we would fail our central purpose then – the exceptional wealthy are already seasteading on their mega yachts – so seasteading for hundreds of dollars a day on a ship would only be “yacht sharing” – nothing new on the planet.

    If we want a society relevant seasteading we need a drastic reduction in cost compared to ships. 




  6. Obviously people are not capeable to pay for permanent housing what they pay for a week of “once in a lifetime of cruiseship vacations”.

    Cruise ships have higher maintenance costs because they need to look very nice and clean all the time.
    Cruise ships needs to pay wages to hundreds or even thousands of staff.
    Cruise ships spend lots of time traveling at significant speeds.
    A seastead based on a used ship does not need all these things.
    I agree that a steel ship will need a lot more maintenance than a concrete barge.
    But I don’t think these are really available on the used market, meaning that you will need to build it new from scratch which will be expensive.
    What is the typical failure mode of a steel ship if you stop maintaining it, and how long will it last?
    If you only do limited, essential maintenance, can you keep it afloat for 2 years? 5 years? 10 years?
    Will it earn it’s purchase cost over that time?
    This is of course assuming that proper maintenance is really as tremendously, impossibly expensive as the experts would have us believe.

  7. I would say a ship is typically sold when the owners start to fear that it will not survive another voyage, or when the insurance and classification society starts to fear so and the fact can not be covered any longer with paint –  to expect 2 years of floatability from this point is probably far too optimistic.

    Even if you could get a brand new ship hull at scrap metal price – it would still be a bad real estate investment – just imagine a house that disappers after a decade – you normally count on handing it over to your children and grandchildren.

    The mere fact that you point to a real estate market requires that the real estate items lasts at least a few hundred years afloat – so this excludes steel ships with their short lifespan and high operation cost pretty much.

    What we need is a floor space cost of 1200USD/squaremeter (equivalent to 2,5 cubic meter of living space at 2,5m room height).

    And we need not only to build at this cost to be competitive with land based living we need also that the created living space lasts for generations without creating significant maintenance cost.

    Just as land based living space. Steel ships – old or new – are orders of magnitude away to be competitive in real estate terms.

    A land based building is basicly a chambered concrete box – that has a price per volume. Good news is you can build and use a similar chambered concrete box at similar prices at sea.

    Nkosssa, Adriatic LNG, Monaco Breakwater, Ekofisk, are working role models.

    What we look for is standard civil engineering – taken at sea – to implement standard housing cost at sea. Some of those structures are moored miles off shore and have living quarters already. So the basic engineering is solved.

    What is left to do is a project management task…



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