The US fleet has innumerable research boats, but it all resembles what we are used to see at sea. All except FLIP (Floating Instrument Platform), a floating search platform that looks like ship and submarine alloy. This is so that he can do his magic, what no other boat can do without sinking.
It can tilt at an angle of 90 degrees and be placed in a vertical position, plunging under most of its water. The result is a stable and calm platform for accurate measurements and plenty of experimentation. Everything in it is designed to work in both directions (horizontal and vertical), even the cabins. That’s why the scientists spend so many weeks and weeks on it as it does what no other ship ever thought to do.
“It was built in the decade that people were trying to reach the moon, so thinking ambitiously was in everyone’s mind,” says Robert Pinkel, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Oceanography Professor who uses FLIP for research from the very first moments when the ship went out in 1962.
The dinghy boat was even made by the Navy to study exclusively how the conditions prevailing at sea affect acoustics, as no one thought it would prove so irresistible in almost every marine survey.
Soon 16 cabs were fitted out and now no one comes out. You can’t call it a normal ship, as it does not have its own engines. They are forced to tow to the desired point, although no one cares because they all await the great overturn.
Within half an hour from the moment it starts, the ship is in a vertical position when the living space “suddenly triples,” says Pinkel. When both nausea and disorientation pass, scientists can begin their investigations. And because it has no engines under the surface of the water, it is also very quiet.
Today, of course, with funds for research shrinking constantly also oceanography is not living great glory, FLIP’s future is not at all guaranteed.