Eric Slater is a senior development engineer and leader of Scripps's Ocean Physics Group. He designs electromechanical equipment, solves engineering problems, and develops and tests specialized instruments used by scientists on FLIP. He talks about his experiences on FLIP:
"Working on FLIP is more like working on a submarine than a ship. It is very stable--it doesn't bob up and down and you don't get as tired while you are working.
"However, it is extremely crowded, and spaces are very small. Research equipment, instruments needed to run FLIP, and living and working space for the crew and scientists are all jumbled together. It is a very high energy 'in your face' environment and everyone must cooperate. There is constant joking to let off tension.
"While we are setting up equipment at the beginning of a cruise, we often work 18 to 20 hours a day. If an emergency occurs, FLIP can not pull up anchor and head for shore, so we take extreme care to complete our work carefully and make sure no one is hurt.
"Several years ago, while FLIP was anchored at sea, it was caught in the tail end of a hurricane. The wind blew at 20 knots (23 mph) and there were ocean swells to 30 feet (as tall as a three-story building). Our aft boom, usually 20 feet above the ocean, was underwater. We shut down the engines for fear waves would come in the exhaust stacks, 40 feet above the ocean, and flood the engine room.
"A ship rolls with storm waves, but FLIP is so stable it is almost immobile. Waves hit it like a brick wall. We were literally thrown out of our chairs inside FLIP when the big waves hit."