A quarter century ago it was apparent that coastal zones were getting overcrowded, subject to destructive storms and occasional tectonic devastations. And there was considerable interest in the possibility of applying aerospace experiences to maritime environment — particularity floating cities.

This writer was then a senior research scientist at the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Miami. Many of the students were anxious to apply space technologies to increase the availability of shrimp, to improve vessel design and to locate sunken treasure ships.

One day, visitors from the Virgin Islands inquired if it was possible to design an underwater structure adjacent to a reef whereby persons could remain dry and observe marine creatures in their natural habitat.

With several of my most experienced students we spent about a week exploring potential sites relatively close to St. Thomas. One site was particularly desirable and we were invited to propose a design for the underwater structure.

Fortunately I had earlier been involved with a simulated man-in-space program that General Electric developed for NASA. When completed the facility was installed at St. Johns, whereby astronauts could simulate working in a semi-weightless environment.

In due time the underwater observatory was constructed — and thousands of viewers have enjoyed the opportunity to observe real life in a coral reef.

Eventually a group of us marine-oriented individuals created Oceans General, intending to improve design of recreational boats, structures and other recreational facilities. We built a line of boats, “Ocean Boats,” and were approached by PAN-AM Hotels and asked for a proposal to design an underwater dining room adjacent to a hotel they intended to build in Jamaica. We also did research on the possibilities of constructing and operating floating cities. Neither effort was ever concluded.

And now “Cities on the Ocean” are being re-examined. Over time, large maritime structures have been constructed and the Seasteading Institute is sponsoring studies on possible plans for ocean-based structures. In Japan, Mitsubishi has proposed various designs for floating cities based on “mega-float.”

Over the past several decades’ oil companies have been drilling in deeper waters and demonstrating that structures built on floating columns are the most rugged; and the shipbuilding industry has a lot of experience in making them.

During 2010 a group of marine engineers produced a detailed design for the ClubStead — a floating resort city which would be off the coast of California, with a staff of 70 and 200 guests.

It would combine the comforts of a cruise ship with the resistance to wind and waves of an oil platform — and it should generate its own energy by renewable natural resources. It would. It would make its own fresh water from seawater and have several helipads and marinas for boats It is anticipated to become a facility for tourists and medical patients.

Potential builders are innovators like Mitsubishi, India’s Tata group, or Samsung of South Korea.

Sure there are a lot of skeptics about the viability of floating cities or colonies on the ocean; however, it makes sense to consider the variety of unsuspected uses that were never anticipated uses of the Internet. The same situation seems likely to occur from the idea of creating colonies on the high seas.

It may be that all that is needed is for the first one to go in the water and say, ”Come on in, the water’s fine.”

Dr. Lloyd V. Stover is a multidisciplinary scientist. He is the creator of Envirodynamics, a systems approach of environmental systems analysis and assessment of alternative strategies. He can be contacted via email at ursine005@gmail.com.