Bathos in Sealand

At Ars Technica, James Grimmelmann charts the failure of offshore datacenter HavenCo. Supposedly beyond the reach of national laws, HavenCo was located on Sealand, a tiny naval fort six miles off the English coast. Occupied since 1967 by a pirate radio DJ and touting itself as the world's smallest nation, Sealand's monarchical trappings are ever-mingled with libertarian fancy. The Pirate Bay expressed an interest a couple of years ago; now Fox News claims Wikileaks could go there. JWZ highlights the most telling photo. [Ars Technica]



  1. To be fair, that looks like a nice room to put a datacentre in, should anyone wish to front the money.  Until that point, an investment in kit would arguably be premature, Moore’s Law being what it is.

  2. Two things: those chassis are vintage late-1990s (not that they don’t still make ATX motherboards), and they’re using relay racks instead of cabinet racks, which is simply wrong.

    1. If you are going to be dealing in two-post stuff(not entirely implausible if your intended audience is mostly bandwidth constrained specialty hosting, not big four-post hardcore compute gear or (then largely nonexistent) VM farms, it isn’t too serious a sin…

      Now, what possessed anybody to think that putting the hardware on a lawless little rock would do jack to help them when their internet links all had to run either through the UK, the Atlantic Coast of Europe, or(at alarmingly high cost) Satellite providers, all of whom are deep in the pocket of some nation-state or other… That part is total insanity.

      1. Chassis like those placed in a two-post rack should be mounted center, front to back. There are brackets for it.

  3. I found the part about how Roy Bates (the “Prince” of Sealand) took over  Roughs Tower in the 1960s from Radio Caroline (at least in part) by violence to be very eye-opening. In the sanitized history of Sealand that I’m familiar with from the media, Bates is made out to be an amusing eccentric who moved out to an abandoned platform that nobody was using. The truth isn’t nearly so charming.

    1. Honestly, by the standards of either nation states or people who are enthusiastic about not having laws apply to them, Bates is a lily-white model citizen…

      An assortment of larger-than-life financial shenanigans(but nothing that ever amounted to much, compared to the stuff practiced by respectable thieves), a dash of coercive violence and false imprisonment; but apparently without ever racking up a body count or any permanent damage, and a whole lot of hot air and RF broadcast violations…

  4. The history of Sealand should probably be required reading for all those ‘seasteaders’ out there… 

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