Tech

June 25, 2012

Navy’s floating research platform ‘flips’ for 50th anniversary

by Grace Jean
Arlington, Va.


 
The Department of the Navy’s Floating Instrument Platform is celebrating its 50th year of service June 29.

Scores of scientists have deployed aboard the 355-foot research vessel, owned by the Office of Naval Research and administered and operated by the Marine Physical Laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego, to conduct investigations in a number of fields, including acoustics, oceanography, meteorology and marine mammal observation.

“FLIP’s unique characteristic of a low-profile, stable observational platform has proven particularly useful over the years,” said Dr. Frank Herr, head of ONR’s Ocean Battlespace Sensing Department. “It will continue to be a research vessel of choice for our naval scientists.”

What makes the vessel so special is that it can partially submerge like a sinking ship by filling ballast tanks in its stern with water. When in its vertical position, FLIP’s visible floating platform extends 55 feet above the ocean surface while the rest of the hull reaches 300 feet below the water. Because so much of the vessel is submerged when it sits upright, the platform is impervious to the ocean waves, providing a stable environment for researchers to do their work.

“I’m so thankful that ONR and Scripps have been able to maintain FLIP as an active platform,” said Dr. C. Linwood Vincent, a recently retired ONR division director who managed a number of projects that employed the vessel. Now on the faculty at the University of Miami, Vincent added, “It would be very difficult to conduct these studies on a rocking ship.”

The Office of Naval Research R/P FLIP (Floating Instrument Platform) takes part in the second Radiance in a Dynamic Ocean program, an at-sea research experiment. Twenty-five researchers from the United States, Canada, Poland and Australia participated in the RaDyO experiment. Results from this project are expected to enhance our knowledge of imaging through the air-sea interface and through-the-surface optical communications.

Built in 1962, the steel-hulled platform accommodates 11 researchers and a crew of five for up to 30 days. It does not have its own propulsion and must be towed to research locations in the ocean, where it “flips” into vertical position in approximately 20 minutes. FLIP, designed by Scripps scientists Fred Spiess and Fred Fisher, operates in two modes, drifting with the currents or moored to the sea floor, and supports the deployment of a variety of sensors and instruments.

“FLIP was originally designed to study underwater acoustics-the bending of sound,” said William Gaines, the program manager at Scripps. “In recent times, we’ve done a lot of the marine mammal research because FLIP has the ability to be very quiet in the vertical position. We can place hydrophone arrays far below the surface and put marine mammal observers up top to correlate the signals from the animals to the visual observations.”

In 2010, researchers used FLIP for a set of experiments called High Resolution Air-Sea Interaction project, which measured wind and swell conditions. That data is helping to improve weather models and other ocean-atmosphere databases.

“FLIP was the pivotal platform for that project, which also included research done by traditional research ships and remotely piloted aircraft,” said Tim Schnoor, the program officer who oversees ONR’s research vessel programs.

Naval Research Laboratory scientists recently employed FLIP for oceanographic work using lasers. Additional studies are in the works, and FLIP will continue to support scientists in their research endeavors.

“It’s in good material condition,” said Schnoor. “We’ve continued to invest in maintenance and preservation of the platform, including taking hull thickness measurements to ensure hull integrity. There’s no reason it can’t continue to serve research needs as long as we have users to exploit her unique capabilities.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 28, 2014

News: U.S. has lost track of weapons given to Afghanistan - The United States supplied almost three quarter of a million weapons to Afghanistan’s army and police since 2004, but the military cannot track where many of those arms have gone, a new report found. Bill to improve VA has $17 billion price tag - A bipartisan...
 
 

News Briefs July 28, 2014

Marines seek authorization for dolphin deaths The Marine Corps is asking for a five-year authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service for incidental deaths of bottlenose dolphins during training exercises at a bombing and target range. The Sun Journal of New Bern, N.C., reports that Connie Barclay of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says...
 
 
Army photograph by David Vergun

Senior leaders explain Army’s drawdown plan

Army photograph by David Vergun No commander is happy when notified that a soldier from his or her command has been identified for early separation. But commanders personally notify those Soldiers and ensure participation in th...
 

 

Northrop Grumman awarded mission support services contract

The U.S. Army awarded Northrop Grumman a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, with a potential value of $205 million, to continue providing mission logistics services in support of combat brigades training at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. The contract covers one base year and two one-year options. Support will include the full range of mission...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom

F-35 Rollout Marks U.S.-Australia Partnership Milestone

Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown delivers his remarks at the roll out ceremony for Australia’s first F-35. The official rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II...
 
 
NASA/JPL-Caltech image

NASA’s Mars spacecraft maneuvers to prepare for close comet flyby

NASA/JPL-Caltech image This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 m...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>