Ocean Custodian

Lego RV Calypso Research Boat

Built by TLCB debutant Luis Pena, this is a 1:100 scale replica of the research vessel ‘Calypso’, complete with a helicopter and ‘diving saucer’ submersible vehicle.

The Calypso was originally a US-built wooden-hulled British minesweeper that served in the Mediterranean during the Second World War. Following the Allied victory the ship returned to US hands before being recommissioned as a Maltese ferry.

Within a year however, British millionaire Thomas Loel Guinness purchased the ship and gave it to the diving pioneer, film-maker, conservationist and adventurer Jacques-Yves Cousteau for use as a marine research vessel, a role the Calypso fulfilled for five decades. During an incredible half-century of oceanic exploration Cousteau and the Calypso made numerous discoveries, including the wreck of the HMHS Brittanic sunk during the First World War, the ability of marine mammals to use echolocation, and halted the dumping of radioactive waste in the Mediterranean Sea.

In 1996, almost fifty years after it entered service with Cousteau, the RV Calypso was accidentally rammed by a barge in Singapore and it sunk in the harbour. A week later the ship was raised and transferred to a shipyard, however Jacques-Yves Cousteau died the following year of a heart attack aged 87, and the Calypso was left to rot as various parties fought over the boat’s ownership, its restoration, and unpaid bills.

Today the ship, which has featured in film, documentaries, song, and even has a namesake in Star Trek, is still quietly dissolving in a shipyard in France, a victim of mankind’s inability to put progress over profit. However Cousteau’s legacy remains almost unfathomably huge, and continues to today via the environmental protection foundation that he created which now numbers over 300,000 members.

This beautiful homage to a ship which as done probably more than any other can be found in greater detail at Luis’ photostream on Flickr, and includes both above and below the waterline versions (each pictured here). There’s more to see via the link above, and you can read more about the Cousteau Society that continues Jacques-Yves’ work today by clicking here.

Lego RV Calypso Research Boat

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