The Unsinkable Ship Shows Us What It Can Do
There are big boats, and there are big boats that do incredible things. At first glance, you might be tempted to think that this boat is sinking. It looks as if it is going to meet its watery demise. It is headed to Davy Jones Locker. It is swimming with the fishes. You get the point. Yet, take a closer look and a few oddities begin to affect your perception.
For one, there are a shipload (pun intended) of people on board who seem completely unconcerned that this 355 foot long military grade vessel is sinking. Second, there appear to be a few celebratory woops and yells from onlookers and the crew itself. That begs the question… What in the (insert word of choice) is going on here?? What you are actually looking at is a vessel known as FLIP. Owned by the United States Navy, the Floating Instrument Platform is designed to do exactly what you see. It weighs about 700 tons, and is designed to be used in conjunction with the Navy’s submarine program.
All of a sudden, the cat calls, woops and yells make more sense. So does the unconcerned demeanor of the ship and its crew. If this were a cargo ship, it would be an entirely different story. There would be panic, screaming, life rafts, and life vests flying all over the deck. Yet, this is sinking is all part of the plan. The really impressive part though, is the fact that it only sinks half of the vessel. To accomplish this, two main ballasts are filled with water.
The weight tips the vessel, while the remainder of the ship remains buoyant. Once upright, it circles two or three times before it comes to a stop. Now that is a ride you would lo
The weight tips the vessel, while the remainder of the ship remains buoyant. Once upright, it circles two or three times before it comes to a stop. Now that is a ride you would love to take, right?
How Do You Use the Toilet When it Flips?
FLIP has no engine so the vessel has to be towed to its location before it performs the maneuver. It was originally designed in the 60s and was considered to be part of a technological wonder at the time. Even today, it is one of a kind. There is nothing else on the water like it. Why? Well let me tell you a bit more. The ship had to be designed so it could be used in both a vertical and horizontal configuration. This means that the inside of this boat looks crazy. There are doors mounted on the ceiling and floor. There are toilets in both places too. I can only imagine what it must feel like to walk into a bathroom that has a urinal on the ceiling and the wall. Yes, I know, I would probably try to ring both too. Its what us guys do. Yet for all it’s oddity, the Floating Instrument Platform is quite valuable to the US Navy.
So How Do You Unflip the Boat?
It has been used as a support vessel for exploratory purposes, mammal research, and educational purposes. It has been used to conduct groundbreaking research that enhance our understanding of wave forecasts and weather patterns. It is a massive floating science project for kids too. They are not allowed to board mind you, but they do get access via virtual field trips. There have been far greater advancements since its inception, yet it is great that FLIP can still be useful. I mean, we spent the money, we might as well use it, right? But the real question hanging in the air is how do they get it back down? How do you unsink a ship that was made to be sunk? The answer is you let it leak. Only you can’t do that because the ballasts are underwater. So the Navy uses compressed air instead. The water is forced out of blowholes and returned to the ocean. As it is expelled, the vessel returns to a horizontal state and is towed away by another ship. You just want to make sure you are not in the restroom when they start to turn her upright, or you will find yourself in a situation of sorts.