The FLIP research vessel (Floating Instrument Platform) is the only ship in the world having the ability to flip from a horizontal position to a vertical position while at sea.
The FLIP ship is designed to study wave height, acoustic signals, water temperature and density, and for the collection of meteorological data.
FLIP is 108 meters long and weighs 700 long tons. According to Alan Bellows, “when in horizontal traveling mode, the long, hollow ballast area trails behind.
When it reaches the desired location, the “tail” is flooded until the nose sticks straight up into the air, taking about twenty-eight minutes to reach vertical position”. You can see the process in this video:
Even in stormy conditions, it is as stable as a fencepost, because most of its length lies in the untroubled waters beneath the waves.
During the flip, the crew stand on the outside decks. Scientists and crewmembers literally walk up the walls to stay upright. Suddenly, the aft side of the barge becomes its floor.
That makes for some ingenious engineering feats in equipping its bridge, galley, crew quarters and scientific laboratory. Even its head, or bathroom, had to be constructed to operate in a vertical and horizontal position.
As you can see in the video, some of FLIP’s furnishings are also built so they can rotate to a new position.
In 1995, FLIP received a $2,000,000 modernization. The structural build is currently excellent and instrumentation will allow FLIP to be an oceanographic powerhouse in the future.