Remember SeaOrbiter? No? Well, you should, 'cause we wrote about it six years ago, when plans were underway to create the ship and set it afloat "in the near future." And the near future is now here! Nearly!
SeaOrbiter has been a concept for going on twelve years now. Usually, things that have been concepts for over a decade have been so for a good reason (like, they're entirely impractical or crazy futuristic or both), but it seems like the time is now right for SeaOrbiter.
Designed as an ocean-going research vessel, SeaOrbiter is half submarine, and half not-submarine, sort of like a flip ship. When built, it'll be nearly 200 feet tall, but about half of that will be submerged. It's not much of a speedster, and in fact won't really be propelling itself most of the time, instead relying on ocean currents to drift it from place to place while scientists on board study the sea for months on end while (we have to assume) working on their tans. The entire vessel is designed to be powered by a combination of solar, wind, and wave energy, although there will also be some generators on board that run on biofuels.
SeaOrbiter is expected to cost about $43 million, but all of the funding is already in place and the industrial design has been completed. Construction is scheduled to begin October of this year.