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Calypso at La Rochelle. Career (United Kingdom) Class and type: British Yard Minesweeper Mark 1 Class Motor Minesweeper Name: HMS J-826 Builder: Ballard Marine Railway Company, Seattle, Washington, USA Laid down: 12 August 1941 Launched: 21 March 1942 Commissioned: February 1943 Recommissioned: BYMS-2026 (1944) Decommissioned: 1947 Renamed: Calypso (1947) Reclassified: Research vessel Refit: for Cousteau (1950) Fate: sunk and raised (1996) Status: Being refurbished under the direction of the Cousteau Society General characteristics [1] Displacement: 360 tons Length: 139 feet (42 m) Beam: 25 feet (7.6 m) Draft: 10 feet (3.0 m) Decks: Three 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. She was severely damaged in 1996, and is undergoing a complete refurbishment in 2009-2011. The ship is named after the Greek mythological figure Calypso. Contents 1 World War II British Minesweeper (1941–1947) 2 Maltese Ferry (1947–1950) 3 Jacques-Yves Cousteau's Calypso (1950–1997) 3.1 Calypso sinking (1996) & death of Cousteau (1997) 4 Restoration (1997–Present) 5 The Calypso in popular culture 6 See also 7 References 8 External links World War II British Minesweeper (1941–1947) Calypso was originally a wooden-hulled minesweeper built for the British Royal Navy by the Ballard Marine Railway Company of Seattle, Washington, USA. It was made from Oregon pine.[2] It was a BYMS (British Yard Minesweeper) Mark 1 Class Motor Minesweeper, laid down on 12 August 1941 with the yard designation BYMS-26 and launched on 21 March 1942. It 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, laid up at Malta and finally struck from the Naval Register in 1947. Maltese Ferry (1947–1950) After World War II she became a ferry between Malta and the island of Gozo, and was renamed after the nymph Calypso, whose island of Ogygia was mythically associated with Gozo. 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 her 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", 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. Calypso sinking (1996) & death of Cousteau (1997) 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.[3] The next year, Jacques-Yves Cousteau died on 25 June 1997. Restoration (1997–Present) Calypso at La Rochelle. Calypso was later towed to Marseille, France, where she lay neglected for two years.[2] 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 the restoration. Calypso remained in disrepair.[2] In 2002, Alexandra, Cousteau's granddaughter from his first marriage, stepped in to help organize restoration. Yet 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.[4] 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.[2] 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.[5] 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.[6] On 11 October 2007, the transfer of the ship to Concarneau started, where she will be restored at the Piriou Shipyard and transformed into a permanent exhibit.[7] Restoration work on the Calypso stopped in February 2009 due to non-payment of bills by Francine Cousteau.[8] 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 reports that Francine Cousteau is now directing the restoration of Calypso—which has been brought to the Piriou shipyards in Brittany—as an "ambassador for the seas and oceans".[9] The restoration will be a complete refurbishment making Calypso a self-powered mobile "ambassador".[10] In June 2010 the BBC reported that the Calypso was to be relaunched to mark the centenary of Jacques Cousteau's birth.[11] According to one of the ship's former crew who visited the shipyard, the vessel was still being stored in several pieces in the same hangar as of 11 June 2010 - the official date of the centenary - and is unlikely to sail any time soon. 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's 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 parody 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. Not unlike the Calypso, the Belafonte is an ex-Royal Navy Ton-class minesweeper. See also Alcyone for Cousteau's experimental turbosail ship. HMS Calypso for the Royal Navy ships of the same name. References ^ "Sea Sabres: The Calypso: The stories she could tell!". 23 July 2003.  ^ a b c 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.  ^ "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.  ^ "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 a quitté La Rochelle jeudi matin pour être restaurée à Concarneau". Le Monde. 11 October 2007.,14-0,39-32770868@7-50,0.html.  ^ "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.  External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Calypso (boat) Calypso page from the Cousteau Society. BYMS-26 WWII Construction Records Yard Minesweepers (YMS) Miquel Pontes - "El Calypso: Historia de un mito" in Aquanet 67, 2005 [1] (.PDF file) Rotary Club of La Rochelle page on Calypso (in French) Chantiers Piriou, restauration of the Calypso