Monday, November 22, 2004


Refit to give Cousteau boat new lease of life


Taipei Times

La Rochelle - Calypso, the celebrated oceanographic research ship of French underwater explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, is to get a new US$1.3 million lease of life after repining in harbour here, a US firm said Friday.

Carnival Corporation said it would finance plans to restore Calypso, from which Captain Cousteau conducted expeditions made world famous in cinema and television documentaries starting in the 1950s.

Cousteau, who died in 1997 aged 87, was undersea explorer, photographer, inventor of diving devices, scuba pioneer, writer, television producer and filmmaker.

He co-invented the aqualung, developed a one-person, jet-propelled submarine and helped start the first manned undersea colonies.

Calypso, a converted United States minesweeper, has been rusting for the last six years in La Rochelle harbour on France's Atlantic seaboard whither it was towed after sinking in Singapore harbour in 1996.

"The Cousteau Society and Carnival Corporation have reached an agreement in principle to restore the Calypso, the legendary research and expedition vessel of Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau," Carnival Corporation said on its website.

"Once restored, Calypso will become an exhibit and a center for science and the environment."

The ship would be refitted at a yard in The Bahamas at an estimated cost of US$1.3 million, with work expected to be completed by the end of 2005.

The vessel's new location would be announced later, the company said.

Cousteau, with his trademark red wool cap, became a household name through his television series, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.

Previous attempts to refurbish his famous boat have been frustrated by differences between the Cousteau Society, an association chaired by the late explorer's widow Francine, and Loel Guinness, whose grandfather, a member of the Irish brewing family, bought the boat in Malta in 1950 and put it at Cousteau's disposal.

Guinness had now agreed to arrangements to settle the donation of the vessel to the Cousteau Society, his Paris attorney said.

< Cousteau once said of Calypso she had "acquired a buoyant personality that has never left her.

"I decided from the beginning that those on board were companions in the adventure, whatever their jobs might be."

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