Cousteau's Calypso could sail again in 2016

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Cousteau's Calypso could sail again in 2016

January 13, 2016 - 19:44
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The Cousteau Society have announced that they have secured the means to restore the famous vessel and take her back out to sea.

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

Cousteau refitted the former WW2 minesweeper for oceanographic research and brought marine science to popular awareness with his long-running television series The Undersea World of Jaques Cousteau and the award-winning films The Silent World and World Without Sun.

The Calypso was severely damaged in 1996 when it was rammed by a barge at harbor in Singapore and sank. She was raised a week later, patched and transported to La Rochelle, France, where she remained in the custody of the city's maritime museum for years while a complex custody battle between her owners and Cousteau's family played out.

Stuck in legal limbo

She was supposed to undergo a complete refurbishment in 2009-2011 but the process was once again stalled over issues with outstanding payment to the shipyard. In 2014 the yard's owners sought a court order for her removal, plus payment of 300,000 euros for storage fees and work completed. In March, 2015, after a long legal battle, a French court has ordered Francine Cousteau, the second wife of the late Jacques Cousteau, to settle outstanding yard bills of €273,000 and remove the Calypso from a Brittany shipyard or the shipyard will be allowed to sell the vessel.

The disagreement now appears to be resolved. On 6 January 2016 the Cousteau Society announced that a solution had been found to allow the ship to return to service, complete with the new Volvo engines. Cousteau Society stated that it had been able to gather “... a group of generous and highly motivated international sponsors, whose objectives are compatible with those of the Cousteau Society."

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