Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Programming IT Technology

Offshoring to a Ship in International Waters 800

Posted by samzenpus
from the geek-loveboat dept.
JasdonLe writes "Sourcing Mag posted an article about Roger Green and David Cook, who hope to avoid US visa regulations that usually accompany outsourcing, with their company SeaCode, and a used cruise ship, sitting in international waters three miles off the coast of Los Angeles.""
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Offshoring to a Ship in International Waters

Comments Filter:
  • by TimeTraveler1884 (832874) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:49PM (#12299519)
    Let me be the first to say, "Holy Shit!" Is it me, or is off shoring getting out of hand?

    Apparently, they have plans for 600 software engineers on this ship. Their major point of having them on the ship appears to be that they can maintain low costs to produce software, while only being 3.1 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. I am assuming they don't have to pay corporate taxes to any entity.
    From SeaCode.com:

    SeaCode presents an innovative service which offers the reduced costs of a distant-shore software development operation while providing the operational benefits and accessibility of a U.S. based onshore location.

    Another SeaCode benefit is that 90% of revenue comes back to the U.S. instead of flowing out of the U.S. to distant-shore outsourcing locations.

    But this just seems to be asking for a lot of trouble. Humanitarily speaking, since they are not actually in any country, who protects the rights of those 600 laboring software engineers? Does anyone have the authority to make sure that it's not (child) slave labor? No government agency can make sure that working conditions are safe and healthy.

    From SourcingMag:

    Before you think, "sweat-ship," hear them out. These workers, they say, will each have private rooms with baths, meal service, laundry service, housekeeping and access to on-board leisure-time activities. Picture the Love Boat with a timecard. Staff can make the three-mile voyage into town in their off hours by calling a water taxi. Or they can spend time shopping in the on-board duty-free shop.

    SourcingMag says that SeaCode will treat their workers fairly. That's great and all if we suddenly believed that corporations are honest and will regulate themselves. How many times have companys ran sweat-shops and claimed that they were treating their worker's fairly?

    At first, I thought this was a joke. I am still unsure if it is.

    • by neonfreon (850801) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:58PM (#12299616)
      I must have missed the part where it said they were forcing people to work here? With the workers being 3.1 miles off of one of the biggest media laden metropolitan areas of the world, I doubt these people are going to try and hide very much.

      This is probably the oppurtunity of a life time for a lot of people to get out of their home country for a while and see the U.S. a little bit.
      • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:09AM (#12299698) Homepage Journal
        This is probably the oppurtunity of a life time for a lot of people to get out of their home country for a while and see the U.S. a little bit.

        And what VISA are they going to use to gain enterance to the US? The article contradicts itself on this point:

        "...and run a 24-hour-a-day programming shop, thereby avoiding H-1B visa hassles while still exploiting offshore labor cost..."

        -verus-

        "Staff can make the three-mile voyage into town in their off hours by calling a water taxi."

        I smell something rotten here. Specifically the usage of the word "staff". As in "American Employees can go ashore when they need a break." Gee, thanks.
        • by TGK (262438) <Killfile@Nephand u s .Com> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:33AM (#12299858) Homepage Journal
          If I were them I wouldn't be exploiting the lack of labor laws. You can only expect people to be so productive in something as fundamentaly brain draining as CS if you run them into the ground.

          The lawlessness I'd exploit would be COPYRIGHT. Seriously.... the MPAA and the RIAA have been successfull in shutting down or going after distribution networks, never the root uploaders or the downloaders.

          Set up a blatently illegal server system well off shore, enjoy the benefits of satellite based internet access. Sell movies and music an pennies on the dollar at high quality....

          .
          .
          .

          oh yea....

          3. Profit!

          • by pommiekiwifruit (570416) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @06:08AM (#12301000)
            Considering that the military had no qualms boarding and shutting down ships (e.g. radio caroline) that broadcast "pirate" radio stations, when they were reluctant to do that to ships running hard drugs or terrorist arms, I don't think that would be a wise idea. Remember, copyright infringement is one of the most serious crimes in the world!
          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @06:19AM (#12301022)
            The RIAA was reported to be in negotiations to purchase a "kilo" class submarine from the former Soviet Union.

            A spokesman for the RIAA said that while they could afford it, a nuclear sub was not necessary. "We will only be going out three miles or so, so a diesel sub will do just fine".

        • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @09:22AM (#12301804)
          "Staff can make the three-mile voyage into town in their off hours by calling a water taxi."

          I smell something rotten here. Specifically the usage of the word "staff".


          I smell a number of things rotten here, including the fact that the "entrepreneur" (or article writer) hasn't a fucking clue about international waters, which extend twelve miles from shore, not 3. This is the 21st century, not the 19th, and maritime law may not have changed much, but the definition of "international waters" has.
    • Picture the Love Boat with a timecard. Staff can make the three-mile voyage into town in their off hours by calling a water taxi. Or they can spend time shopping in the on-board duty-free shop.

      ..and golly! don't that just sound like a little slice of heaven? living at work, buying stuff from work... Just like the Love Boat you say? Sign me up!
    • by TheKeyMaker (673862) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:05AM (#12299666)
      Sounds more like HMS Click Monkey
      http://www.clickmonkeys.com/aboutus.shtml [clickmonkeys.com]
    • But this just seems to be asking for a lot of trouble.

      You raise a good point (-ed fanblad), what happens if the 600 software engineers make the pointy haired bosses walk the plank and sail off for Tahiti?

      Call her the FSF Crimson Permanent Assurance, and you'd have a great movie and some killr appz!
    • by switcha (551514) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:29AM (#12299838)
      Does anyone have the authority to make sure that it's not (child) slave labor?

      Oh, come on. No one would hire child slave labor! Everyone knows child slaves are horrible at commenting their code.

    • by richieb (3277)
      Apparently, they have plans for 600 software engineers on this ship. Their major point of having them on the ship appears to be that they can maintain low costs to produce software, while only being 3.1 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. I am assuming they don't have to pay corporate taxes to any entity.

      I heard about this on NPR yesterday. They are incorporated in California, so in fact they will be paying California and US taxes. However, they don't have to pay for their employees health care, social

    • If this takes off I'm going to start a business to supprot their staff.

      I'm thinking that they'll probably have several hundred programmers. Given the current environment, they'll be about 90% male. They won't be able to enter the US because of their status.

      I think running a boatload (literally) of women to them on payday is a guaranteed money maker.
  • by DrunkenTerror (561616) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:49PM (#12299520) Homepage Journal
    Not too bright.
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:49PM (#12299523) Homepage
    So this means the Coast Guard won't save their ass? Finally...about time we scurvy seadogs showed the RIAA and MPAA what REAL pirates are! YAAAR!

    • You used to need a .com website to start a company. I guess all you need now is a boat for startups.... and upgrade to battleship enterprise status later.

  • by jarich (733129) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:49PM (#12299531) Homepage Journal
    If they'll cruise it through the Bahamas, I know lots of people who'd sign up! ;)

    How would this affect taxes?

    • Tax Issues (Score:3, Interesting)

      by patio11 (857072)
      The IRS will point out to the proprietors that, while it was an amusing idea the first time it was tried (decades ago -- "Hey, if we operate a casino on the high seas then we don't have to tax winnings!"), they're still responsible for federal income taxes on income earned in places America has no soverign jurisdiction over. Thats why, for example, I have to file a tax return every year from Japan. Of course, the ship could just try to ignore them, but they'd have bank accounts and shore leave in places w
  • Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrDoh! (71235) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:50PM (#12299534) Homepage Journal
    Not sure this plan will hold water. I hope they've weighed all the options.
  • Dumb idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:50PM (#12299536) Homepage Journal
    Dumbest idea EVER. I do not understand this infatuation with outsourcing professional workers. You can't tell me it's anywhere near as cost effective as they're making it out to be. (My own experience says otherwise.) I smell another crash of DotCom proportions...

    But if they're going to do this thing, they should at least do it in style [slashdot.org]. By utilizing an inexpensive aircraft carrier [fleetairarmarchive.net] they could at least send these people home for occasional weekends and vacations. Under the proposed plan, they're basically prisoners on the ship unless they can manage to get a Visa to enter the country. Which, of course, negates the entire point of not messing with H1-Bs. And how do they think the government is going to react to having these people parked right off our shore? (Hmm... maybe they could refit the guns on the old carrier to keep the coast guard off their backs.)

    Did I mention that this is a dumb idea?
    • Re:Dumb idea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) * on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:15AM (#12299754) Homepage Journal
      I smell another crash of DotCom proportions...

      So do we my friend.

      Just remember, when you see businesses going out of business after outsourcing their workers, make sure you hammer in the point by saying something like "I TOLD YOU SO DUMBASS!" and humilating the corporate officers in public.

      Outsourcing is a numbers game: It appear that you are saving money because the labor is cheaper, and the cost of labor is written down in the corporate financials. However, you LOSE money because of the inefficiency, which is harder to pin down.
  • by slashdot_commentator (444053) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:50PM (#12299542) Journal
    ...of a horde of unshowered, dropcloth wearing Indians chained to a deck with oars next to their keyboards...

    (first post?)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:50PM (#12299545)
    Arg! Torpedo to the server room!
  • by dcigary (221160) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:52PM (#12299563) Homepage
    Now, with our awesome Slashdot power, we have now set fire to the servers on the ship, and it is in the process of sinking.

    Good job, everyone! Now, World Domnination is within our grasp!
  • Misleading summary (Score:3, Informative)

    by smallpaul (65919) <paul@@@prescod...net> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:52PM (#12299564)
    "Visa regulations" do not accompany "outsourcing". Visa regulations accompany the importation of foreign workers. The problems cited with outsourcing are mostly related to distance.
  • Hmmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:53PM (#12299569) Homepage
    ... I wonder what the tax implications for the workers are. And what happens if a crime is committed in International Waters? What about a guarantee of workplace safety and anti-discrimination policy?

    I see lots of problems here.
  • Should we wait... (Score:5, Informative)

    by rk (6314) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:54PM (#12299582) Journal

    until they anchor it three miles off the coast to tell them the US claims territorial waters twelve nautical miles off the coast?

  • Morons. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frennzy (730093) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:55PM (#12299590) Homepage
    L. Ron Hubbard ALREADY owns the patent to this! Just ask his friendly help desk people at the scientoloaserfgad
    asdfasdfasdfa
    ASDFAESRFA

    NO CARRIER
  • More typos? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Solder Fumes (797270) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:01AM (#12299636)
    I'd hate to be a coder on the ship during a good storm. We'll probably start seeing variable names like upanddown, backandforth, sidetoside, puke, makeitstop, and soseasick.
  • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:03AM (#12299654) Homepage
    I totally want to set up a web server there and illegally distribute Windows ISOs from there, just so I can be charged with Piracy on the High Seas
  • Heh.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:09AM (#12299701) Homepage
    From TFA: Staff can make the three-mile voyage into town in their off hours by calling a water taxi. Or they can spend time shopping in the on-board duty-free shop.

    I've done my fair share of time aboard a ship, and let me just say that anchoring out and taking a ferry (or water taxi, or whatever you want to call the vomit inducing small craft that transport you to and from the port) a "mere three miles," is a much bigger pain in the arse than you might think. If you're lucky, they run once every 30 minutes. In a situation like this, it's more likely to be every hour, or every few hours.

    Do some shopping during the day, and now you'd like to change and grab some dinner and maybe go out? Enjoy catching the ferry back to your boat and then waiting for the next one to get back to land.

    Oh, and that moderate sized TV you just bought? Have fun carrying it up the brow.. not to mention just getting it off the ferry, which is probably using its own power to stay pressed against a barge tied alongside the ship. Oops, you slipped? That's a shame. Dropped your TV in the drink? Hope you have a good credit card company, and they believe you.

    But I guess maybe it's better than the pay and conditions in the country you come from, and I'm just a spoiled American.
  • by Bagheera (71311) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:10AM (#12299708) Homepage Journal
    "International waters" don't start three miles off-shore. The US maritime claims are as follows:

    Maritime claims:
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    contiguous zone: 24 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    continental shelf: not specified


    In other words, they'd have to be at least 12 miles from shore, and possibly (depending on who's doing the interpretation) over 200.

    Also, as far as I'm aware, the ship will have to be flagged somewhere, which means that it's effectively that country's territory when in international waters.

    Someones tax man will find them.

  • by craXORjack (726120) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:11AM (#12299723)
    I think the 200 Mile Economic Zone was intended to settle fishing disputes but I can imagine the politicians using it as the basis for taxing this venture. Another question I have is whether the country that the ship is registered in has the rights already to tax commerce that takes place on the ship. Are cruise lines not liable for taxes? Is there no Sales tax on a cruise booked on-line? Obviously there would be no Use tax.

    And while you're at it, why not just drop a super long anchor out at sea, declare your cruise ship to be an artificial island, and petition the U.N. to recognize you as an autonomous state? [luf.org]

  • Sure, sure, (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:12AM (#12299733)
    it's all fun and games until Hiro Protaganist shows up and carves a hole in the hull with his chain gun on steroids.
  • Baloney (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dpud1234 (771892) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:18AM (#12299773)
    This must be a fake ....

    Notice how their first "Company News" lists an Article-FORBES with no link. If you go to Forbes.com and search their site for "SeaCode" you get: "Sorry, your search for SeaCode did not return any Documents. Please revise your search and try again."

    Besides, 3.1 miles makes no sense as your not in international waters.
    • Re:Baloney (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:27AM (#12300593)
      Yah, I can't understand how anyone is buying this crap. The logistics simply don't work. Cruise ships cannot remain offshore -- not even 200 feet offshore -- for more than a few weeks. You can't reprovision these things with tenders. You can't scrape and paint the bottom with dolphins. It's a giant expense for no particular purpose. A cruise ship costs many many many millions of dollars a year to operate, just sitting there.

      Nobody can quite figure out what restrictions they're avoiding 3.1 miles offshore anyways. Their chart shows them INSHORE of Catalina Island, for god's sake. They're in Los Angeles County.

      These guys are scamming the press, and laughing their asses off.
  • by kb9vcr (127764) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:18AM (#12299780)
    1. To code in the sea.
    2. To live in sea.
    3. To live by the code of sea.

    Rrrrr, it be a pirates life for thee
  • by hedley (8715) <hedley@pacbell.net> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:20AM (#12299792) Journal
    Imagine a passed over supertanker refitted with lots of small decks (a la being John Malkovitch). Fitted with UV lighting and irrigation many plants could be harvested in international waters. Customers would
    arrive via boat.

    Eventually some pissed govt sticks a torpedo in it.
    • Customers would arrive via boat.

      And get busted as they attempt to return to shore.

    • by SEE (7681) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @05:21AM (#12300901) Homepage
      The Convention on the Law of the Sea prohibits four classes of crimes on the high seas (that is, in so-called international waters):

      1) Transportation of slaves
      2) Piracy (private acts of violence, detention, or depredation)
      3) Illicit traffic in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances
      4) Unauthorized broadcasting

      Now, only 1 and 2 allow a boarding by any nation regardless of the ship's flag (though 4 allows any nation receiving the signals or interference from them to board). However, all countries are obligated to cooperate in the supression of all four; somebody will call your ship's flag country and get their cooperation.

      What if your ship isn't under any country's flag? Well, ships without nationality are subject to boarding at any time by any nation, merely for being without nationality.

      On the oceans, the only times you are not subject to the laws of one country are when you're subject to the laws of more than one country; the only times you are not subject to the laws of a specific country or countries is when you are subject to the laws of any country.
    • by Ann Elk (668880) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @05:35AM (#12300930)

      Would that be a supertoker?

  • by katana (122232) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:59AM (#12299991) Homepage
    Sea++.

    Thank you. I'm here all week.
  • by NerveGas (168686) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:17AM (#12300061)

    You get to live on a cruise ship in international waters, and work "below the radar", so to speak. What a great way to lie low until the heat cools off. Shoot, forget running there AFTER the feds are looking for you, it seems like a great place from which to RUN all kinds of criminal activity.

    steve
  • by Clark_Griswold (692490) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:20AM (#12300074)


    Scurvy.
  • by loudici (27971) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:35AM (#12300139) Homepage
    sailing the ship to india seems a bit expensive. on the other hand if they stay a few miles off of LA, the indian coders will need to fly into LA, get admitted into the US, and then take a boat to their cruise ship. something tells me the immigration officers at LAX will not like that.

    in addition to that, if they want to go anywhere once they are on the ship they have to either enter the US without a visa, which is a felony and will get you banned for 10 years, or find a way to get a visa while on the ship. good luck!
  • Like (Score:5, Funny)

    by Renraku (518261) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:06AM (#12300277) Homepage
    Here's what I'd like to see.

    Week 1: Operations launch. Works getting done. Going well.

    Week 2: Work is better.

    Week 3: Pirates came in and confiscated all our computers and electronic equipment. Called the coast guard. I think I heard them laughing in the background.

    Week 4: We've drifted into China due to a complete lag of navigation or ship control systems. I, for one, welcome our new communist overlords.
  • A thousand oceans (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Etherael (651533) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:08AM (#12300288)
    I've wanted to do something similiar on a small scale for a *long* time now, I run my own consultancy and do most of my work for clients remotely, there's no real reason I need to be land based to do any of that stuff, so I started looking into maybe buying a houseboat on a local river, with the advent of wireless internet it was entirely practical to do so, and I thought that I could travel up and down the river and drop anchor closer to clients and thus have a shorter commute in the event that I ever did need to make onsite visits. That turned out to be a fairly feasible idea with no obvious gotchas, you run diesel generators for excess power requirements with a large battery pack hooked up to solar and wind generators, and you're fairly self sufficient when it comes to low end energy requirements.

    This is from a twenty five year old guy that had lived all his life on land, and I have to say I consider myself a fairly practical person, so something about the entire idea just kept hitting me the wrong way, it had that "no, this is pie in the sky, it can't happen" feeling to it, and I just couldn't figure out why. I went into dramatic levels of detail in speccing out the lifestyle, you can purchase water generators which will create freshwater from seawater using nothing but energy (provided from the aforementioned power infrastructure) and there's plenty of storage room in a houseboat for food, which is pretty much the only thing you cannot harvest directly from your immediate environment.

    That last statement triggered my attention and I thought, well, what about the ocean? What does it really take to make ocean passages on the high seas? or even just clinging to the eastern coast of Australia? If all the provisioning you've done so far works for a houseboat, why wouldn't it work for an oceangoing vessel?

    So I looked into that some more, and found it very interesting indeed, there's an entire subculture, admittedly mostly of retired people, that live onboard their sailing yachts, travelling the world mostly at leisure. They had all the facilities that I had imagined you would need for a life at sea, large capacity batteries, solar and wind generators, backup diesel capacity, watermakers, etc etc etc, and lived almost entirely self sufficiently, travelling where they wished, when they wished.

    This sounded like a pretty ideal lifestyle to me, I'm actually currently in the process of saving up enough money to buy a suitable vessel for precisely this purpose, investigating further I found that catamarans provided a very good level of stability and comparitively low preparation time, as monohull vessels would tend to have a more severe angle of keel whilst under passage, catamarans were a better choice for a real working environment.

    The only remaining hurdles are *absolute* global internet access, and raising enough money to buy the catamaran itself, I've tentatively decided on a Perry 57 catamaran, as I figure if I intend to spend the rest of my life on a vessel, I had best get something I'm not soon going to tire of.

    I hope by the time I purchase the vessel broadband global satellite access may be a step closer to reality, if not it will likely be mostly hugging various coasts for doing actual real work rather than wandering the ocean blue at a moments notice and entirely on a whim, but even that is a hell of a lot more freedom than a five day a week desk job back on terra firma.

    All I can say is, it sounds crazy, but it isn't. The only reason I can come up with that this deep seated belief that it really is insane remains with me is that we're conditioned from birth to believe that the infrastructure modern society and government provides us with in order to aid our survival is so complex that we could never hope to sever that link, because if a large amount of people really did do this, it would greatly reduce the current "democratic" and utilitarian justifications for the absolute power of modern government.

    Don't take my word for it, though, if you're feeling restless, ill at ease, whatever, investigate it yourself, you may be pleasantly surprised at the results of your enquiries.
  • Location (Score:3, Insightful)

    by richieb (3277) <richieb@gmail . c om> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @07:39AM (#12301247) Homepage Journal
    If you are going to be on a ship, why not stay 3 miles of the coast of Bermuda?!

  • by iolaus (704845) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @08:36AM (#12301530) Homepage
    If they'd just cruise the baby around the world for a year or so I'm sure they could get a boat-load (ha) of programmers who'd be happy to work for a very low wage. I'd be tempted to work for low pay for a year in exchange for the opportunity to see the world and travel to exotic locations. Slogan: See the world, meet interesting people, and replace them with small shell scripts!
  • Seasick! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Weaselmancer (533834) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @08:44AM (#12301567)

    Ever try reading a book as a passenger in a car? What happens to you?

    Now, imagine a computer screen and a gently rocking boat, and a programmer's work week. You'd need an IV drip bottle of Dramamine to survive this gig.

Someone is unenthusiastic about your work.

Working...