The Calypso in November 2007, at Concarneau.
|Career (United Kingdom)|
|Class and type:||British Yard Minesweeper
Mark 1 Class Motor Minesweeper
|Builder:||Ballard Marine Railway Company, Seattle, Washington, USA|
|Laid down:||12 August 1941|
|Launched:||21 March 1942|
|Operator:||French Oceangraphic Campaign|
|Refit:||For Cousteau (1950)|
|Fate:||Sunk and raised (1996)|
|Status:||Being refurbished under the direction of the Cousteau Society|
|General characteristics |
|Length:||139 ft (42 m)|
|Beam:||25 ft (7.6 m)|
|Draft:||10 ft (3.0 m)|
|Installed power:||2× 580 hp (430 kW) diesel engines|
|Speed:||10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)|
|Crew:||27 in Captain's Quarters, Six Staterooms & Crew Quarters|
|Notes:||Photo & Science Labs
Underwater observation chamber
Helicopter landing pad
Yumbo 3-ton hydraulic crane
Minisub storage hold
RV Calypso is a former British Royal Navy minesweeper converted into a research vessel for the oceanographic researcher Jacques-Yves Cousteau, equipped with a mobile laboratory for underwater field research. It was severely damaged in 1996, and is undergoing a complete refurbishment in 2009-2011. The ship is named after the Greek mythological figure Calypso.
World War II British minesweeper (1941–1947) 
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, reclassified as BYMS-2026 in 1944, and laid up at Malta and finally struck from the Naval Register in 1947.
Maltese ferry (1947–1950) 
Jacques-Yves Cousteau's Calypso (1950–1997) 
The Irish millionaire and former MP, Thomas "Loel" Guinness bought Calypso in 1950 and leased her to Cousteau for a symbolic one franc a year. He had two conditions, that Cousteau never ask him for money and that he never reveal 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.
Calypso carried advanced equipment, including one- and two-man mini submarines developed by Cousteau, diving saucers, and underwater scooters. The ship was also fitted with a see-through "nose" and an observation chamber three meters below the waterline, and was modified to house scientific equipment and a helicopter pad. The Calypso underwater camera is named after this ship.
On 8 January 1996, a barge accidentally rammed Calypso and sank her in the port of Singapore. On 16 January, she was raised by a 230-foot crane, patched, and pumped dry before being put in shipyard.
The next year, Jacques-Yves Cousteau died on 25 June 1997.
Restoration (1997–present) 
Calypso was later towed to Marseille, France, where she lay neglected for two years. 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 kept any restoration work from beginning. Francine Cousteau managed to organize the ship's restoration. A dispute arose between Francine Cousteau, the widow of Jacques Cousteau, and Loel Guinness, grandson of the original purchaser.
When this dispute was discovered by the sponsoring Mayor of La Rochelle, it added to the air of uncertainty and hesitancy over funding the restoration. When the mayor subsequently died, the city of La Rochelle withdrew as a source of funding for the restoration. Calypso remained in disrepair.
In 2002, Alexandra, Cousteau's granddaughter from his first marriage, stepped in to help organize restoration. The Cousteau Society, controlled by Francine Cousteau, reportedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend Francine's exclusive use of the name, and to prevent Alexandra's participation in the restoration of Calypso.
In July 2003, Patrick Schnepp, director of the La Rochelle maritime museum, expressed his frustration at the inability to restore the ship to fit condition: "The whole affair disgusts me... Everything that's not broken is rotten, and everything that's not rotten is broken." The Guardian reported that he desired to see the ship towed off the Ile de Ré and scuttled, as Jacques-Yves Cousteau had envisioned would have been the ship's original fate had he not been granted its use.
On 30 November 2004 it was erroneously reported Calypso had been sold by Loel Guinness, to Carnival Cruise Lines. Carnival stated they intended to give the vessel a 1.3 million dollar (1 million euro) restoration, and then likely moor her in the Bahamas as a museum ship.
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. A legal battle regarding ownership of the vessel ensued which was resolved in favor of the Cousteau Society in October 2007. The restoration project then resumed.
On 4 October 2008, Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen produced a new luxury chronograph, which will be sold to raise proceeds for the restoration of Calypso.
Restoration work on the Calypso stopped in February 2009 due to non-payment of bills by Francine Cousteau. Piriou Naval Services of Concarneau are owed €850 000, of the estimated total €1 737 000, for work already done on the ship. The ship is now stored in one of the ship builder's hangars.
As of March 2009 the Cousteau Society reported that Francine Cousteau was directing the restoration of Calypso—which has been brought to the Piriou shipyards in Brittany—as an "ambassador for the seas and oceans". The restoration will be a complete refurbishment making Calypso a self-powered mobile "ambassador".
In June 2010 the BBC reported that the Calypso was to be relaunched to mark the centenary of Jacques Cousteau's birth.
The 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 also featured in the 1964 film World Without Sun (Le Monde sans Soleil), which also 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 whether this song is in tribute or slander, but the song is entirely about Jacques Cousteau and his ship the Calypso.
- The Captain's yacht of the USS Enterprise-D, on Star Trek: The Next Generation, was named Calypso by actor Patrick Stewart. He also gave the name Cousteau to the Captain's yacht of the USS Enterprise-E in homage to the Calypso's famous former Captain.
- Bill Murray starred in a film homage of Jacques Cousteau's life called The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. In the movie, Zissou travels the seas in a ship called the 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. Unlike the Calypso, the Belafonte is a "long-range sub-hunter".
See also 
- Alcyone for Cousteau's experimental turbosail ship.
- HMS Calypso for the Royal Navy ships of the same name.
- SP-350 Denise first diving saucer
- "Sea Sabres: The Calypso: The stories she could tell!". 23 July 2003.
- Henley, Jon (28 July 2003). "Cousteau family row may sink his ark; Watery grave awaits famous vessel in dispute over its future". The Guardian.
- "Cousteau's Calypso rescued in Singapore". CNN Newsbriefs. 25 January 1996.
- Flowers, Charles (4 March 2003). "The Cousteau Wars". CDNN.
- "Cousteau's expedition ship Calypso sold for one euro". CDNN. 30 November 2004.
- "La Calypso a quitté La Rochelle jeudi matin pour être restaurée à Concarneau". Le Monde. 11 October 2007.
- "IWC Involved in Protecting The World’s Oceans; Aquatimer Chronograph ’Cousteau Divers’ watch supports conservation efforts". Middle East Business News. 4 October 2008.
- "La Calypso de Cousteau dans une mauvaise passe". Ouest France. 2 February 2010.
- "Calypso Saved!". Cousteau Society. 2009.
- "New Calypso's engines delivered to Francine Cousteau!". Cousteau Society. 16 February 2009.
- "Jacques Cousteau's ship Calypso is to be re-launched". BBC News. 8 June 2010.
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