Vertical Vessel in Pacific Ocean

To mark the 50th Birthday of the FLIP, or Floating Instrument Platform owned by the US Navy, researchers have been showcasing the 108m vertical vessel in the Pacific Ocean.

The 700-ton FLIP was built in 1962 to refine acoustic targeting for submarine rockets, but today scientists utilise the vessel for various research projects, including the study of meteorology, physical oceanography and air-sea interactions.

Once towed to a target site, the FLIP rotates a full 90 degrees by pumping 700 tonnes of seawater into the handle and air is pumped into opposite tanks, causing it to rise out of the sea.

Everything onboard is created to flip, including sinks, beds and condiments.  The engines and galley equipment are mounted on trunnions, allowing the vessel to rotate around them, with items securely locked into place with pins. Every room has a door in the wall and ceiling, and there are two showers­ -- one for the boat's horizontal position and one for its vertical. 

Although the vessel has no propulsion, she is equipped with a hydraulically operated thruster that can rotate the vessel and maintain a heading.

By anchoring itself in calm waters, the boat provides a soundless platform for researchers to listen to ocean acoustics, detect underwater earthquakes and record precise measurements in up to 30 foot waves.  

Today, the FLIP is operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego; the team often live and work on the vessel for weeks on end conducting oceanic studies.

Reorienting to horizontal requires up to 3000 cubic ft. of compressed air being blown into the ballast tanks, pushing water back out through the flood openings, so that the keel remains down as the vessel swings back to the surface. 

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