The Flip Ship: An Amazingly Weird Research Ship

The Flip Ship (Floating Instrument Platform) is a unique Research Ship created by the US Navy in collaboration with the Marine Physical Laboratory in the year 1962. It is designed like a spoon, stands at 355 ft and is unique in the sense that it has the flexibility to stand vertically from a routine ship’s position of being horizontal.

The most unique feature of this type of ship is that it can flip from horizontal to vertical position for research purpose.

Purpose Of Flip Ship

The entire shift of the flip ship from its horizontal to vertical position takes around 28 minutes and it a sight worth beholding.

Check out the ship in action in the video below:

By allowing water to seep into its ballast tanks, 300m of the ship is submersed in the water, allowing the Flip Ship to carry out its purpose of being an accurate Research Ship.

The main reason why this Research Ship is designed in this manner is because, generally the horizontal position of the ship does not allow accurate readings of waves and other oceanic data relevant because of the movement that a ship’s natural shape reduces the potency of the measuring devices.

flip ship
Credits: Office of Naval Research

Therefore the Flip Ship was created which could solve the problem of the potency of the measuring devices by providing the flexibility to the Research Ship to stand vertical and independent of waves in the water and carry on its research accordingly. The ship can face waves up to 80 ft and is manoeuvrable in both shallow as well as deep water.

Also, since the Flip Ship’s main purpose is to aid and play a pivotal role in researching the oceanic waters, it does not have any engines and in order to manoeuvre it into the waters, tows are used to carry out the operation.

The maximum speed of the ship when towed into the waters is around 7-10 knots and once it is vertical in the waters, it does not require any additional support to keep it vertically intact.

Benefits of Flip Ship

The Flip Ship is used to research about wave length, density and temperature of the water, acoustics of the water and other relevant meteorological data that could prove helpful to study marine flora and fauna.

Another unique aspect of the Flip Ship is that only one such research ship has been designed and therefore the importance of the Flip Ship increases by a considerable amount.

Which is why, in order to keep abreast of the many modern developments in technology, the Flip Ship underwent a renovation in the year 1995 and has able to predict many important points and changes that happen to the ocean and the marine life on a constant basis.

The research instruments are designed sideways in such a way that when the ship turns from the horizontal to the vertical position, the instruments are switched into a usable position automatically.

Design of the Flip Ship

The interior and the decks of the crew of the Flip Ship are also designed keeping in mind the horizontal-to-vertical shift of the ship. There are two doors to every room on the ship to facilitate entrance when the ship is horizontal and when the ship is vertical.

flip ship
Credits: Office of Naval Research

Bed-bunks, gas-stoves and toilets are conceived in such a way that they swivel and can be used appropriately, in spite of the ship’s position.

In order to maneuver the ship back to the horizontal resting position, compressed air is used in order to release the water in the ballast tanks and the ship is turned into its resting position.

The Research Ship is not only innovative in its design but is also ingenious in its operations. Over the course of the four decades that the ship has been created, it has helped the US Navy to carry out its research operations with huge and credible success.

Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

The article or images cannot be reproduced, copied, shared or used in any form without the permission of the author and Marine Insight.

Reference: Ship-Technology, Core77

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One Comment

  1. This ship was designed by The Glosten Associates located here in Seattle. They have a well deserved reputation for working on government projects that required seriously innovative designs. I remember seeing an article on this ship in (I think) National Geographic when I was 12 years old.

    During the 35 years I have been involved directly with the Marine Design community in Seattle, I have watched The Glosten Associates grow and become one of the leading naval architects in the US. If the FLIP is actually still in operation, it is a testament to the quality of the firms designs.

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