The R/P FLIP (FLoating Instrument Platform) is an open ocean research platform owned by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) and operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography (San Diego, California).

The platform is 355 feet long and is designed to partially flood and pitch backward 90°, resulting in only the front 55 feet of the platform pointing up out of the water, with bulkheads becoming decks.

When flipped, most of the ballast for the platform is provided by water at depths below the influence of surface waves, hence FLIP is stable and mostly immune to wave action similar to a spar buoy.

The U.S. Navy’s R/P FLIP Ship

At the end of a mission, compressed air is pumped into the ballast tanks in the flooded section and the platform, which has no propulsion, returns to its horizontal position so it can be towed to a new location.

The platform is frequently mistaken for a capsized ocean transport ship.

Originally built in 1962, and has served as a mobile platform for observing and testing various oceanic properties ever since. Its initial purpose was to research undersea sound waves, which required it to be very wave stable.

The U.S. Navy’s R/P FLIP Ship

Inside the ship, the floors are walls and the walls are floors. And the bathroom needs two sinks.

The vessel is spoon-shaped and is flipped by pumping 700t of seawater into the ‘handle’ end while flooding air into the ‘cradle’, causing it to rise out of the sea.

The transition from horizontal to vertical positioning takes nearly 30 minutes, after which 300m of the buoy is submerged underwater, keeping the 700 long-ton mass steady, providing a stable research platform for underwater acoustics research.

The U.S. Navy’s R/P FLIP Ship

The vessel is imperviable to wave motion, thus allowing researchers to conduct a range of research activities including meteorology, geophysics, physical oceanography, marine mammal research, non-acoustic ASW and laser propagation experiments in a stable environment.

RP FLIP Homepage


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