IR Outreach Vessel M/V What If

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As a humanitarian relief organization and a member of COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster), the Impossible Roads Foundation endeavors to serve Bellingham beyond traditional expectations by creating a resource that would allow us to extend our emergency, disaster, and community services past the conventional definition defined by most EMS charters, to a more robust and holistic offering that includes service and response to individuals and groups who are in crisis.

The way we have chosen to fulfill our mission and our commitment to our community and beyond is through the creation of a modular multipurpose relief vessel. This vessel will be a catamaran made entirely of shipping containers. It will be on the water 24/7, and serve the Port, Bellingham, and the larger Whatcom County inhabitants in the event of any disaster big or small. The vessel will have firefighting capabilities, search and rescue capabilities, a low draft for land transfers, and ample space for emergency provisions and shelter. The vessel will be owned and operated by trained and certified Impossible Roads staff, and it will be a resource to both the Port and the Bellingham community free of charge.

The ability to create this amazing vessel through shipping container frames is an especially exciting aspect of this project. The individual shipping container, although useful as a structural component of the vessel, will also serve as a means by which we increase our deliverables…through container specialization – optimized for partner mission support. Specifically, every subsection or container can be optimized for the delivery of service given the scope of disaster or need. For example, each 40-foot high cube shipping container that is used as a structural element, can be internally optimized and outfitted and then strategically designed to handle a wide range of disasters/emergencies; from the widespread community disasters of flood, fire, mudslide and earthquake… to the personal, more singular, emergencies like homelessness, hunger and displacement.

The division of specialized containers will also serve as a great fundraising tool. It can give donors and sponsors a direct avenue to support a specific part of the mission or vessel development. For example, Peace Health or Puget Sound Energy can sponsor and outfit specialized container 4b; a medical supply specialty container that is structurally near the aft deck on the port side. This fundraising example not only furnishes the foundation with the necessary needs to serve the community, but it allows companies and organizations to give products or gifts-in-kind that align with their own core values and mission.

Some of the specialized containers we will have in the hull and structure are:

Emergency Medial Equipment Container

Family Care Container

Water Supply Container

Hydroponic Food Supply/Garden Container

Fuel Container

Electronics Communication Container

Galley and Food Service Container

Engine & Energy Container

Life raft Container

Fire Suppression Equipment Container

Crew Quarters Container

Emergency Shelter Container

Mission Control Container


Development Philosophy – And Use of Shipping Containers for Marine Hull and Architecture.

Our sustainable approach to construction through upcycling/recycling has been the basis of structural projects at all scales. We are committed to ecologically responsible and intelligent methods of building. To that end, we will leverage the technological properties of existing industrial objects (in this case shipping containers) to create innovative, sustainable and functional marine architecture.

Our goal is to not only recycle the objects themselves, but to recycle the intelligence that went into their development. Beyond the inherent sustainability of our design methodology, we are committed to researching and implementing innovative ways to conserve materials and energy. This includes all parts of the shipping container, including the corrugated sides, which will be repurposed as interior design appointments inside the vessel.


Benefits of Design and Philosophy


Flexible Modularity

Strength and Durability

Efficiency and Cost

Advances in science, service, and technology will never yield to practical and safe thinking. We must venture beyond the familiar boxes of the status quo and dare to ask ourselves once more…’What If.”

John P. Hope


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