Photo of the Week: FLIP and Friends


Researchers and crew gathered for a photo aboard research platform FLIP, which is currently deployed near San Clemente Island on a pilot cruise to study the dynamics of the upper ocean boundary layer. The image was provided by San Nguyen.

FLIP, the FLoating Instrument Platform, is not a ship, but a 355-foot-long research platform that can be deployed for oceanographic research. Designed by scientists at Scripps's Marine Physical Laboratory, FLIP is operated by Scripps Oceanography for the U.S. Navy.

This deployment is part of a multi-year project supported by the Office of Naval Research to improve scientific understanding of the boundary through which energy is transferred between the ocean and the atmosphere.

Normally docked with Scripps’s fleet in San Diego Bay, FLIP can be towed to out to sea in its horizontal position and then “flipped” 90 degrees so that 300 feet of its length are under water. This turns FLIP into a “spar buoy,” a tall, thin, weighty structure designed to be uniquely stable and resistant to wave motion.

FLIP was built in 1962 to help study long-range sound propagation for submarine warfare, but the platform has since supported research in geophysics, meteorology, physical oceanography, and other scientific fields. Its unique appearance and method of deployment have also made it a worldwide curiosity and the subject of many documentaries.

More information about FLIP is available at

Related Image Gallery: Photo of the Week 2016

Related Video: FLIP flips

Sign Up For
Explorations Now

explorations now is the free award-winning digital science magazine from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Join subscribers from around the world and keep up on our cutting-edge research.