RV Calypso

RV Calypso is a British Royal Navy minesweeper converted into a research vessel for the oceanographic researcher Jacques-Yves Cousteau , with a mobile laboratory for underwater field research. It was severely damaged in 1996, and was planned to undergo a complete refurbishment in 2009-2011. The ship is named after the Greek mythological figure Calypso .

World War II British minesweeper (1941-1947)

Calypso was originally a minesweeper built by the Ballard Marine Railway Company of Seattle , Washington , United States for the United States Navy for loan to the British Royal Navy under lease-lease . A wooden-hulled vessel, she is built of Oregon pine . [3]

She was a BYMS (British Yard Minesweeper) Mark 1 Class Motor Minesweeper , laid down on 12 August 1941 with yard designation BYMS-26 and launched on 21 March 1942. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy in February 1943 as HMS J-826 and assigned to active service in the Mediterranean Sea , based in Malta , and was reclassified as BYMS-2026 in 1944. Following the end of World War II , she was decommissionedin July 1946 and laid up at Malta. On 1 August 1947 she was formally handed back to the US Navy and then struck down from the US Naval Register, remaining in lay-up. [4]

Maltese ferry (1949-1950)

In May 1949 she was bought by Joseph Gasan of Malta, who had secured the mail contract on the ferry between Marfa , in the north of Malta, and Mġarr, Gozo in 1947. [4] She was converted to a ferry and renamed Calypso G after the nymph Calypso , whose island of Ogygia was mythically associated with Gozo, entering service in March 1950. Gasan received an attractive offer and sold her. [4]

Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s Calypso (1950-1997)

The British millionaire and MP train , Thomas Loel Guinness bought Calypso in July 1950 and leased her to Cousteau for a symbolic one franc a year. He had two conditions, that Cousteau never asked him for money and that he never revealed his identity, which only came out after Cousteau’s death. Cousteau restructured and transformed the ship into an expedition vessel and support base for diving , filming and oceanographic research. One of the more unusual expeditions involving the vessel was a survey conducted by Cousteau on behalf of British Petroleum (BP) in 1954 – the first and last time was used for an oil survey. [5]

Calypso , including one-and two-man mini submarines developed by Cousteau, diving saucers , and underwater scooters . The ship was also equipped with a nose and an observation chamber 3 meters (9.8 ft) below the waterline, and was modified to a helicopter pad. The Calypso is named after this ship.

On January 8, 1996, a barge accidentally rammed Calypso and sank her in the port of Singapore . On 16 January, she was raised by a 230-foot (70 m) crane, patched, and pumped dry before being put into shipyard. [6]

The next year, Jacques-Yves Cousteau died on June 25, 1997.

Restoration (1997-present)

Calypso was later towed to Marseille, France, where she was neglected for two years. [3] Thereafter she was towed to the basin of the Maritime Museum of La Rochelle in 1998, where she was intended to be an exhibit.

A long series of legal and other delays Francine Cousteau , the widow of Jacques Cousteau, managed to organize the ship’s restoration. A dispute arose between Francine Cousteau and Loel Guinness , grandson of the original owner.

When this dispute is discovered by the Mayor of La Rochelle, he added to the air of uncertainty and hesitancy over funding restoration. When the mayor subsequently died, the city of La Rochelle withdrew as a source of funding for restoration. Calypso remained in disrepair. [3]

In 2002, Alexandra, Cousteau’s granddaughter from his first marriage, stepped in to help organizes the restoration. The Cousteau Society, controlled by Francine Cousteau, reportedly paid to defend Francine’s exclusive use of the name, and to prevent Alexandra’s participation in the restoration of Calypso . [7]

In July 2003, Patrick Schnepp, director of the La Rochelle Maritime Museum, said: “The whole affair disgusts me … Everything is not broken, and everything is not rotten is broken. ” The Guardian reported that he wanted to see the ship towed off the Isle of Ré and scuttled, as Jacques-Yves Cousteau had envisioned would have been the ship’s original fate had he not been granted its use. [3]

On 30 November 2004 It was erroneously Reported Calypso HAD beens sold by Loel Guinness, to Carnival Cruise Lines . Carnival Stated They Intended to Give the vessel was 1.3 million dollars (1 million euro) restoration, And Then Likely moor her in the Bahamas as a museum ship . [8]

In late 2006, Loel Guinness transferred ownership of Calypso to the Cousteau Society for the symbolic sum of one Euro. The transfer was part of a plan of restoration led by Francine Cousteau . Legal proceedings between COF (French Oceanic Campaigns) and the Cousteau Society over ownership of the vessel were concluded by the Court of Cassation in Paris with a judgment in favor of the latter in December 2007. The restoration project then resumed.

On 11 October 2007, the transfer of the ship to Concarneau started, where she was to be restored to the Piriou Shipyard and transformed into a permanent exhibit. [9]

On October 4, 2008, Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen produced a new luxury chronograph, sold to raise proceeds for the restoration of Calypso . [10]

Restoration work on Calypso stopped in February 2009 after the delivery of Calypso ‘ s new engines built by Volvo, because of the non-payment of bills by Francine Cousteau. [11] Piriou sued, claiming to be over € 850,000, of the total estimated € 1,737,000, for work already done on the ship. The ship was stored in one of the ship builder’s sheds.

The Cousteau Society filed a counter-suit for defective work. As of March 2009 the Cousteau Society reported that Francine Cousteau was directing the restoration of Calypso as an “ambassador for the seas and oceans”. [12] Calypso ‘s self-powered mobile “ambassador” was a complete refurbishment . [13]

In June 2010 the BBC reported that Calypso was to be relaunched to mark the centenary of Jacques Cousteau’s birth. [14] However, this 2010 centenary passed without progress.

In September 2013, a petition Was it lancé change.org That requested que la ship be saved and be added to the French national heritage ( national heritage ). Within three weeks the petition collected 6000 signatures. The Cousteau Society HAD made a similar request of the French government in 2010. As of October 2013 the shipyard Piriou Stated That They expected a resolution from the Commercial Court (short sales) in Quimper Within A Few weeks, setting the course for the restoration of the ship by Piriou or another shipyard. [2]

In March, 2015, after a long legal battle, a French court has ordered Francine Cousteau, the second wife and widow of Jacques Cousteau, to settle outstanding yards bills of € 273,000 and remove Calypso from a Brittany shipyard or the shipyard will be allowed to sell the vessel. [15] On 6 January 2016, the Cousteau Society announced that it was a solution to the Volvo engines. [16]

Calypso in popular culture

  • Calypso was featured in The Silent World , the 1956 film awarded the Academy Award for Documentary Feature , and the 1956 Palme d’Or .
  • The ship Was aussi featured in the 1964 movie World Without Sun ( World Without Sun ), qui aussi won the Academy Award for Documentary Feature.
  • John Denver wrote a 1975 hit song ” Calypso ” as a tribute to Calypso and her crew.
  • Jean Michel Jarre wrote a four-part composition in tribute to the ship, called Waiting for Cousteau (1990).
  • GWAR wrote a song entitled “Je M’Appelle J. Cousteau”, which was featured on their album Hell-O , originally released in 1988. It is not entirely clear, but the song is entirely about Jacques Cousteau and his ship Calypso .
  • The Captain’s yacht of the USS Enterprise-D , on Star Trek: The Next Generation , was named Calypso by actor Patrick Stewart . He gave the name aussi Cousteau to the captain’s yacht of the USS Enterprise-E in homage to the Calypso ‘ s famous form captain.
  • Bill Murray starred in a movie homage of Jacques Cousteau’s life called Expired The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou . In the movie, Zissou travels the seas in a ship called Belafonte . This is an oblique reference to Jacques Cousteau’s ship Calypso . Harry Belafonte is a noted musician who played calypso music on an album called Calypso . While in the film, Belafonte is described as a “long-range sub-hunter”, like Calypso she was also a British minesweeper, the Ton-class HMS Packington .

See also

  • Underwater diving portal
  • Alcyone for Cousteau’s experimental turbosail ship.
  • HMS Calypso for the Royal Navy ships of the same name.
  • SP-350 Denise first diving saucer


  1. Jump up^ “Sea Sabers: The Calypso: The stories she could tell!” . 23 July 2003. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
  2. ^ Jump up to:b “A petition to” save “Commander Cousteau’s Calypso” . Point . France Media Agency. October 7, 2013 . Retrieved 5 April 2016 .
  3. ^ Jump up to:d Henley, Jon (28 July 2003). “Cousteau family row may sink his ark; Watery grave awaits famous vessel in dispute over its future” . The Guardian . Retrieved 5 April 2016 .
  4. ^ Jump up to:c Somner, Graeme (1982). Malta Ferry . Kendal: World Ship Society. pp. 11-12, 31. ISBN  0-905617-19-3 .
  5. Jump up^ Morton, Michael Quentin (June 2015). “Calypso in the Arabian Gulf: Jacques Cousteau’s Undersea Survey of 1954” . Liwa . 5 (9): 3-28 . Retrieved 17 August 2016 .
  6. Jump up^ “Cousteau’s Calypso rescued in Singapore” . CNN . January 25, 1996. Retrieved 5 April 2016 . permanent dead link ]
  7. Jump up^ Flowers, Charles (March 4, 2003). “The Cousteau Wars” . CDNN. Archived from the original on April 29, 2014.
  8. Jump up^ “Cousteau’s shipping Calypso sold for one euro” . CDNN. 30 November 2004. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
  9. Jump up^ “The Calypso left La Rochelle Thursday morning to be restored to Concarneau” . The world . 11 October 2007. Archived from the originalon 29 November 2013.
  10. Jump up^ “IWC Involved in Protecting The World’s Oceans; Aquatimer Chronograph ‘Cousteau Divers’ watch supports conservation efforts’ . Middle East Business News . 4 October 2008. Archived from the originalon 20 November 2008.
  11. Jump up^ Mesgouez, Dominique (2 February 2010). “The Calypso Cousteau in a bad time” . West France . Retrieved 5 April 2016 .
  12. Jump up^ “Calypso Saved!” . Cousteau Society . 2009. Archived from the original on April 2, 2009.
  13. Jump up^ “New Calypso’s engines delivered to Francine Cousteau!” . Cousteau Society . 16 February 2009. Archived from the original on 22 April 2009.
  14. Jump up^ “Jacques Cousteau ‘s ship Calypso is to be re – launched” . BBC News . 8 June 2010 . Retrieved 5 April 2016 .
  15. Jump up^ “French shipyard threatens to sell Jacques Cousteau’s boat” . The Guardian . March 12, 2015 . Retrieved 9 July 2017 .
  16. Jump up^ “Calypso set to sail again!” . Cousteau Society . Retrieved 8 January2016 .

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