When it comes to the research, discoveries and accomplishments of Jacques Cousteau, Calypso, his famed research vessel, is often mentioned as the well-known oceanographer’s most prized possession. The RV Calypso was a vessel rented by Jacques-Yves Cousteau in July of 1950, and was a symbol for ocean exploration throughout the next four decades. Cousteau fitted the Calypso with advanced equipment used ultimately for undersea exploration in most of the major waters of the world, including Singapore, Malaysia, the Amazon River and the coldest regions of Antarctica.
Cousteau’s Famed Research Vessel: The RV Calypso
Named after the Greek Nymph who, according to legend, held Ulysses captive for ten years on the island of Gonzo, the RV Calypso was initially a Mark 1 Class Minesweeper used in WW2 as a loan from the United States to the Royal British Navy. It was laid down in August 1941 and decommissioned in 1946, after which it was struck from the US Naval Registrar and remained in Malta. When British millionaire Thomas Loel Guinness leased it to Jacques Cousteau, Calypso had been converted into a ferry. In 1950, when the transaction – which involved the payment of a single symbolic Franc per year, and implied Cousteau kept his silence regarding Guinness’ involvement – was completed, the oceanographer began fitting it with advanced underwater filming and diving equipment, aiming to transform it into an underwater research vessel.
Jacques Cousteau Calypso – Research and Expeditions Aboard the Ship
Calypso soon became a household name as it appeared in The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, a documentary series that ran between 1966 and 1976. Cousteau used the ship to explore the seas, utilizing innovations like its underwater observation chamber to search for the secrets of the underwater world. It was a basis for scientific explorations, research, documentaries and studies that changed the way scientists see the ocean. The ship remains a testament to Cousteau’s achievements and explorations, as well as a symbol of hope for humanity’s environmental preservation efforts.
The Calypso’s Sinking and Restoration
The Calypso was sunk in the waters of Singapore by a barge on January the 8th, 1996, and it took more than 17 days to retrieve it. The ship was raised by a 230-foot crane, pumped dry and repaired before being transported to a nearby shipyard. After Cousteau’s death a year later, the ship was left to gather dust in a French shipyard for almost two decades. Its return was announced at the beginning of 2016, as the Cousteau Society claimed they had found new sponsors for the vessel’s complete repair and restoration. A living tribute to Jacques Cousteau, Calypso is now undergoing repairs and changes, as the Cousteau Society announced it would take up to 18 months before it would be made ready.