FLIP - Weird Flipping Ship
Published 28 February 2007 by markzmann
FLIP (FLoating Instrument Platform) is an 355 feet long open ocean research ship designed to partially flood and pitch backward 90 degrees, resulting in only the front 55 feet of the vessel pointing up out of the water. FLIP was designed to study wave height, acoustic signals, water temperature and density, and to collect meteorological data.
Because of the potential interference with the acoustic instruments, FLIP has no engines or other means of propulsion. It must be towed to open water, where it drifts freely or is anchored. When the ship is in horizontal (traveling) position, the long, hollow ballast area trails behind. Once it reaches the targeted location, the tail is flooded with 1500 tons of seawater and the nose sticks straight up into the air. It takes about 28 minutes to flip from horizontal to vertical position.
During the flip, everyone stands on the outside decks. As FLIP flips, these decks slowly become bulkheads (the name sailors use for walls). The crew step onto decks that were, only moments before, bulkheads. Inside, decks have become bulkheads; bulkheads have become decks or overheads (ceilings).
Some of FLIP's furnishings are built so they can rotate to a new position as FLIP flips. Other equipment must be unbolted and moved. Some things, like tables in the kitchen and sinks in the washroom, are built twice so one is always in the correct position.
Because most of its length lies in the untroubled waters beneath the waves, FLIP fulfills the scientific need for a steady platform even in stormy conditions. A 30-foot wave only causes FLIP to move 3 feet vertically in the water column.
Floating Instrument Platform was conceived and developed in 1962 by the Marine Physical Laboratory (MPL) at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. To date, FLIP was used in over 300 operations worldwide.