FLIP, A One-Of-A-Kind Ocean Vessel That Can Stay Afloat Vertically

FLIP at sea

FLoating Instrument Platform (FLIP) is one-of-a-kind open ocean research vessel owned by the Office of Naval Research and operated by UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography that can go from horizontal to vertical in about 30 minutes, serving as “as a stable platform for oceanographic research.” At 355 feet long, this manned spar buoy is designed to stay afloat vertically, even in heavy seas. It was first launched on June 22, 1962 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

FLIP…is designed to accommodate riders in both horizontal and vertical positions, leading to a unique and sometimes bizarre layout with doors mounted on the floor, portholes in the ceiling, tables bolted sideways to walls, and stairs seemingly leading to nowhere.

…FLIP has supported science in a variety of locations across a spectrum of research projects, including acoustics, marine mammal research, geophysics, meteorology, physical oceanography, and laser propagation experiments.

Carrying a research team of up to 11 and a crew of five, FLIP can sustain research operations for up to 30 days without resupply and can operate either drifting or moored.

Inside FLIP

Sinks, toilets, and other aspects designed for horizontal and vertical use lead to sometimes bizarre layouts.

FLIP in the horizontal

FLIP "flipping"

FLIP "flipping"

FLIP flipping sequence diagram

FLIP designers

FLIP designers (from left) Philip Rudnick, Fred Fisher, and Fred Spiess hold the first model of FLIP, made from a Louisville Slugger baseball bat. FLIP was launched on June 22, 1962.

via CNET Crave

images via Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Rusty Blazenhoff
Rusty Blazenhoff