Scripps Research Platform FLIP – A Most Unusual Ship

John Konrad
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September 17, 2010

Scripps Research Platform FLIP

In 2002, when my wife was working aboard the Robert G. Sproul at Scripps Institute Of Oceanography, we had the chance to tour FLIP and it is one of the most interesting vessels I’ve ever seen. The Scripps website tells us alittle about this amazing research platform:

FLIP stands for Floating Instrument Platform: it is actually a huge specialized buoy. One of its creators described it as looking like a 355-foot long ( 108 m) baseball bat. If that isn’t unusual enough, it really flips!

Popular Mechanics featured the FLIP in a recent edition of the magazine. Here are some highlights from the story:

Scripps Institute of Oceanography DockShaped like a giant baseball bat, the 700-ton FLIP, or Floating Instrument Platform, is a Navy barge operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. Once towed to a site, the vessel flips to vertical. “It was built in 1962 to refine acoustic targeting for submarine rockets, but scientists quickly realized that it would be useful for all kinds of research,” says Bill Gaines, FLIP’s program director. “So 45 years later, FLIP still serves the oceanographic community.” And it is still one of a kind.


FLIP SinksTanks 5, 8 and 9, and parts of tanks 6 and 7, remain filled with air to keep FLIP buoyant. Like the Louisville Slugger that the vessel was modeled from, FLIP increases in diameter from bow to stern — a profile that contributes to its stability when vertical. “A design criterion for FLIP was that it move less than one-tenth of a passing wave’s height,” Gaines says.

Flip Research Vessel

There is more good information at Popular Mechanics site in the story titled:

Open Ocean Lab FLIP Vessel: How it Works

FLIPing Video

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