RP FLIP is an open ocean research vessel owned by the Office of Naval Research and operated by the Marine Physical Laboratory of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The ship is a 355 feet (108 meters) long vessel designed to partially flood and pitch backward 90 degrees, resulting in only the front 55 feet (17 meters) of the vessel pointing up out of the water, with bulkheads becoming floors. When flipped, most of the buoyancy for the platform is provided by water at depths below the influence of surface waves, hence FLIP is a stable platform mostly immune to wave action. At the end of a mission, compressed air is pumped into the ballast tanks in the flooded section and the vessel returns to its horizontal position so it can be towed to a new location. The ship is frequently mistaken for a capsized ocean transport ship
FLIP is designed to study wave height, acoustic signals, water temperature and density, and for the collection of meteorological data. Because of the potential interference with the acoustic instruments, FLIP has no engines or other means of propulsion. It must be towed to open water, where it drifts freely or is anchored. In tow, FLIP can reach speeds of 7–10 knots.
FLIP weighs 700 long tons (711 tonnes) and carries a crew of five, plus up to eleven scientists. It is capable of operating independently during month-long missions without resupply being able to operate worldwide but the normal area is the west coast of the United States. The vessel operates out of a home base at the Scripps Nimitz Marine Facility in San Diego, California
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