One of the world’s unique vessels, in fact the only vessel of her type in existence, the US Navy’s Floating Instrument Platform (FLIP) celebrated its 50th year of service in June and is likely to continue in service for many more years. Owned by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and administered and operated by the Marine Physical Laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, the 355ft research ‘barge’ was designed to be capable of being transformed into a vertical live-aboard buoy in 20 minutes by adjusting ballast.

When in its vertical position, FLIP’s visible floating platform extends 55ft above the surface, while the rest of the hull reaches 300ft below the water to provide a highly stable environment, with vessel movement limited to about six degrees in any direction. Accommodation, however, is unique, with furnishings and equipment mounted on gimbals, walls that become floors, floors that have doors and twin sinks and toilets are mounted at 90 degree angles from each other.

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