Calypso (ship)

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"Calypso" - Montreal, 1980.jpg
Ship data
flag United KingdomUnited Kingdom (Naval War Flag) United Kingdom of France
FranceFrance (national flag of the sea) 
Ship type Research ship
class YMS class
Shipyard Ballard Marine Railway Company, Seattle
Build number BYMS-26
Launch March 21, 1942
Commissioning February 1943
Ship dimensions and crew
42 m ( Lüa )
width 7.6 m
Draft Max. 3.0 m
displacement 360 tn.l.
crew 27 men
Machine system
machine 2 diesel
1,160 PS (853 kW)
10 kn (19 km / h)
propeller 2

The research vessel Calypso was used by the oceanography researcher Jacques-Yves Cousteau as a mobile laboratory for field research .


Construction and use in the Second World War 1941–1947

Originally the Calypso was a US- American minesweeper of the YMS-class of the US Navy with the identification BYMS-26 . The keel was laid on August 12, 1941 in the Ballard Marine Railway Co., Inc., shipyard in Seattle , USA and launched on March 21, 1942. The US Navy transferred the ship to Great Britain on August 22, 1942 . It was reclassified as HMS J-826 in February 1943. The ship was used in the Mediterranean . In 1944 it was renamed HMS BYMS-2026 and put on roadstead in Malta in 1946. On June 10, 1947, it was deleted from the naval register. It returned to the United States on August 12, 1947.

Ferry service on Malta 1947–1950

The ship was sold to Joseph Gasan and converted into a ferry that operated between Malta and the neighboring island of Gozo and was renamed Calypso - after the nymph Kalypso , who lived on the mythical island of Ogygia after Homer's Odyssey .

Jacques-Yves Cousteau's Calypso (1950–1996)

The Irish brewer Guinness , who bought the ship in 1950, made it available to Cousteau. He converted the Calypso into a research ship. Cousteau's productions, which are popular worldwide on television , also made the Calypso world famous. Many people still associate underwater photography and research diving with the Calypso .

Remain until today

The Calypso on June 1st, 2008 in the Concarneau shipyard with the bow removed. In the foreground the Alcyone .

The Calypso was rammed by a launch during maintenance work in the port of Singapore on January 8, 1996 and sank. She was lifted, provisionally repaired and towed to Marseille in the same year . Cousteau wanted to donate the Calypso to the University of Marseille there , but this did not materialize. In 1998 the ship was towed to La Rochelle . There it was in the Maritime Museum, but it was no longer serviced or repaired.

At the end of 2004 it became known that Loël Guinness, the grandson of the then buyer, had sold the ship to the US cruise company Carnival for a symbolic price of one euro . For 1.3 million dollars, the Calypso was to be overhauled and turned into a floating museum in the Bahamas as part of a "center for science and education" .

This was followed by a legal dispute over ownership of the Calypso between the "Cousteau Society", chaired by Cousteau's widow, and the "Campagnes Océaniques Françaises" (COF), to which the researcher's son also belonged. On November 17, 2005, the higher court in Paris decided that the Calypso did indeed belong to the “Equipe Cousteau” and that the sale could thus be legally concluded.

In October 2007, the Calypso was towed to Concarneau in Brittany (Finistère department; 29) to be completely repaired at the Piriou shipyard.

As of September 2008: In the shipyard of the fishing port on the banks of the Moros, all the superstructures and the bow of the ship were dismantled in order to be restored separately from the frames and the outer skin of the ship. At this point in time, the “skeleton” was lying “naked” in the hangar and was derusted. The bow section was removed to make this work easier and stood on a mobile sledge in front of the hangar door (at the level of the dry dock). The work could be followed from outside, except in bad weather when the gate was closed.

In February 2009, work was stopped following a legal dispute with the Piriou shipyard.

Jacques Cousteau's son, Pierre-Yves, was planning an expedition on the Calypso on the occasion of his father's 100th birthday . He wanted to document how the Mediterranean had changed since Jacques Cousteau's last voyages. Since the restoration of the Calypso was delayed for an indescribable time, the other remaining ship, the Alcyone , was reactivated for this expedition sponsored by the National Geographic Society . The resulting documentary was called: Secrets of the Mediterranean: Cousteau's Lost World .

On October 11, 2013, the Quimper Commercial Court ruled that the Cousteau Society did not have to make the payments Piriou requested due to non-contractual restoration work. At the same time, the court released Piriou from the contractual obligations. According to the judgment, the Cousteau Society had to vacate the hangar of the shipyard by the end of 2013. However, the Cousteau Society appealed the judgment. The further fate of the Calypso was initially unclear.

In December 2014, a court ruled that the shipyard was entitled to € 273,000 for the work carried out on the ship. If the invoice is not paid, the shipyard has been granted the right to sell the ship. The Cousteau Society, with the help of public donations, paid the requested amount. In January 2016 it was announced that patrons could be found and the restoration of the ship could be resumed.

Restoration in İzmit near Istanbul

On March 4, 2016, the Calypso with new engines and historical superstructures was loaded onto the Dutch special freighter Abis Dusavik . He set course for Turkey, where he arrived on March 25, 2016 and unloaded the Calypso in a shipyard in İzmit . The Cousteau Society engaged Turkish shipbuilders for the restoration work, because they still have the necessary know-how and the machines for woodwork in these dimensions. The Calypso will be housed in a specially constructed hangar for the work. On Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 2:30 a.m., a fire damaged the legendary Calypso. However, it appears that the historical elements of the ship are intact, it is some of the ship's new wooden parts that are affected. The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. The declared goal is to make the Calypso fit for the ocean again, although it is assumed that the ship will later be used as a nature conservation ambassador and will no longer go on a long expedition.


  • John Denver wrote the popular song "Calypso" in recognition of the calypso and their crew . It reached second place on the US charts .
  • Jean Michel Jarre named a title on the 1990 album Waiting for Cousteau / En attendant Cousteau after the ship.


Individual evidence

  1. NavSource Online: Mine Warfare Vessel Photo Archive . HMS BYMS-2026
  2. La Calypso de Cousteau dans une mauvaise passe 21 January 2010
  4. Kim Willsher French shipyard threatens to sell Jacques Cousteau's boat in: The Guardian , March 12, 2015, accessed January 8, 2016
  5. ^ Jacques Cousteau's Calypso to sail again in: The Guardian, January 7, 2016, accessed January 8, 2016

Web links

Commons : Calypso  - collection of images, videos and audio files