Every trip aboard conventional ships reminds the
oceanographer of the value of a stable platform from which to perform
experiments at sea. A ship's natural motions not only make ocean measurements
difficult to obtain with accuracy, but it reduces the effectiveness of
personnel and equipment. This driving ocean force, among the most powerful
in nature, dissipates rapidly just beneath the ocean surface. Even during
severe sea storms rolling over several thousand square miles, a layer
of relative calm lies a few hundred feet below the unruly waves. This
region has become the domain of submarines during the past half century.
In 1962 they were joined by the research platform FLIP,
whose great length lies mainly in the untroubled waters beneath the waves.
As a result, she is almost as stable as a fencepost and, for those who
study the sea, oceanographers, she offers an opportunity for more refined
ocean measurements than they have ever had before.
The Floating Instrument Platform, FLIP, is a 355 foot long manned spar
buoy designed as a stable research platform for oceanographic research.
FLIP is towed to its operating area in the horizontal position and through
ballast changes is "flipped" to the vertical position to become
a stable spar buoy with a draft of 300 feet.
FLIP is owned by the US Navy and
was conceived and developed by the Marine Physical Laboratory (MPL), Scripps
Institution of Oceanography, University
of California, San Diego. Built originally to measure effects of the
environment on long range sound propagation for the US Navy's SUBROC program,
FLIP has been used principally for acoustics research since then.
It has also been used in a variety of other programs including geophysics,
meteorology, physical oceanography, non-acoustic ASW and in laser propagation
experiments. FLIP has operated in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.