Ships of Note: What the FLIP?

In this image, a ship is apparently sinking

Admiral Tryon made ships do this too. Accidentally, in his case…

Excuse me?


It’s, erm, your ship. It appears to be sinking.

Black and white photograph of RP FLIP in vertical orientation and with its booms deployed. It looks almost sane like this.
Ships only do this when they’re very distressed. Usually.

I don’t think so.

It’s plunging downwards!



That’s the bow, actually. You’re looking at it the wrong way.

The whole damn ship’s looking the wrong way!

Only from a certain perspective. We quite like it like this.

Please, just stop – it’s making me feel funny.



I said ok. We’ve stopped doing it, and now we’re sending it for scrap.


Because it’s old and knackered. Repeatedly having scientists doing undignified things to one’s orientation does that, you know.

I think we’ll draw a veil over that. Any chance of it being preserved?

Not really. It’s pretty hard to find a dock ninety-odd metres deep to preserve it in.

You could have left it in the horizontal position?


What the hell was that thing for, anyway?

The boffins wanted RP FLIP to be an upstanding member of the scientific maritime community, of course. Also it’s more stable vertically because most of the vessel is then in the calmer layers beneath the waves, letting them do their boffinry in peace. You don’t want an unstable scientist, believe me.

I should imagine there are some difficulties with turning an entire ship ninety degrees vertically?

Not now that we’ve learnt to warn anybody in the heads before we fill its backside with water.

I was wondering about that…

Retired Navy Capt. William Gaines standing by a toilet, with sink at ninety degrees to it - and not the ninety degrees you might be expecting - and a shower above his head. The shower tray is currently on the wall, and the walls of the shower above his head.
The most disturbing shower since Psycho.

We have a sign in them.

And what does it say?

It’s a picture of Sean Connery announcing that you are now shitting at ninety degrees.


No. We do have two sets of facilities built at right angles to each other though. It’s like MC Escher briefly entertained a career in naval architecture. Before being told in no uncertain terms to bugger off.

Nobody copied it then?

Surprisingly enough, no.

Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could…


The details:

Launched: 1962

Length: 108m

Draught: 108m (minus 17m or so sticking in the air)

Laid up: 2017

Current status: Razor blades in waiting

NB: Edited 11th Aug 23 because we’d forgotten for about the hundredth time that FLIP does not, in fact, go arse over tit – it’s the other way up.

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2 thoughts on “Ships of Note: What the FLIP?

  1. The video on the Wikipedia page of this thing doing its “flip” really is something. It’s a much faster process than I expected, and it was amusing to see the crew members on camera shift to adjust for the orientation change.

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