Comas of temporarily abandoned cruise ships—maritime ruins in an age of COVID-19—have been popping up on the outer edges of Caribbean islands, visible in satellite photos of the sea.
Ships from Carnival, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean now form a strange new archipelago, a network of ships “spread out loosely in three groups spanning some 30 miles” west from the Bahamas, The War Zone explains. …
[W]hat strikes me here is how the failure of a particular business model has had near-immediate spatial effects, verging on apocalyptic surreality: an overnight surplus of ships and their workers, with nowhere to go, are, for the indeterminate future, a kind of stateless micro-polity, inconveniently flagged to countries unwilling to offer support and unable to dock or disembark in intermediate nation-states for fear they might spread COVID-19.
In fact, as that New York Times link, above, points out, “An estimated 150,000 crew members with expired work contracts have been forced into continued labor aboard commercial ships worldwide to meet the demands of governments that have closed their borders and yet still want fuel, food and supplies.” 150,000! “The result has been a string of desperate emails, text messages and calls to shore. Pleas to governments have gone unanswered.”
-- Geoff Manaugh, May 7, 2020
The similarity in appearance of the ships to a field of tobacco mosaic virion particles is worth noting, as here: