I envision an oceangoing ship the size of a modern container ship laden with a hydroponic farming operation. The ship could be moved to whatever temperate zone is required for the crop being raised. It could be owned and operated by hunger relief organizations so as to provide fresh food rations to natural disaster areas of the world. In addition, it could provide desalinization equipment to provide fresh water directly from the sea to these areas or drought ridden regions of the world, in addition to providing the fresh water needed for its own agricultural requirements.
The entire exterior of the craft can be fitted with photovoltaic panels to fulfill the electrical needs of all operations on board. The panels on the top horizontal surfaces would have sun tracking capabilities to optimize the collection of sunlight regardless of ships direction. The square footage of useable solar panels would be substantial at any time considering the size and length of the vessel.
I envision the entire operation could be manned by as few as fifty crewmen and a host of robotic material handling equipment. Pallet movers would be automated, day / night cycles would occur with automated lighting systems, and pollination can occur naturally.
Picking and packing will probably still be done with human intervention. Warehouse operations for packaging and container loading can be done in the rear of the ship where existing cranes will deliver filled containers to a land based dock or a ship running alongside, as well as receive empty containers for refill. Monitoring of everything from watering cycles to nutrient fluid levels in the hydroponic bays will be computerized and automated. Crop cycles could occur year round and growing seasons extended for select varieties of sundries.
The USS BOUNTIFUL HARVEST could be constructed and operated with existing technologies and provide a growing need to any corner of the globe in as little time it takes to sail there. Only navigable canals and straits would dictate the ultimate size of this vessel but container ships already go worldwide so this point is negligible.
Thank you for your kind consideration.
Thanks also to www.professionalgardening.com for the illustration.