I have owned a 20 volume boxed set of the original “The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau” for almost 40 years but was wholly unaware of an additional volume added at some later date. That extra book was all about Calypso, the boat which, through the films and books of the late, great Jacques Cousteau, became one of the most famous in the world and finally became a separate book in its own right.
Built as US Minesweeper JB-26, the original Calypso was sold to the Royal Navy before ending her military days in Malta. With weapons removed, she was then used as an inter-island ferry before being purchased and then leased to Jacques Cousteau in 1950. Over time, she underwent several transformations and whilst the addition of a helipad might easily rank amongst the most ostentatious, another addition proved to be a real money saver.
In front of the stem of the original ship was fitted a false nose at the bottom of which was an underwater observation chamber. With access hatch at deck level, a person could climb down an upright tunnel - something akin to a number of 50 gallon oil drums welded end to end, before entering an orb shaped observation chamber fitted with glass portholes. Whilst this device was excellent for watching Dolphins as they swam with the boat and played the bow waves, the structure also accidentally took on the form of an early type of bulbous nose and immediately increased the vessel’s range by dramatically reducing her fuel usage.
With several cross-sections and line drawings in addition to photographs of Calypso at work, this is as complete an exposé of this very famous boat as one might wish to find.