National Geographic : 1961 Jul
Inflatable Ship Opens Era of Airborne Undersea Expeditions Portable craft and diving saucer can travel by plane to any ocean on earth By CAPT. JACQUES-YVES COUSTEAU the beautiful golden-haired princess said in French. "May God watch over thy course and thy crew." Princess Grace of Monaco, under an umbrella held by Prince Rainier III, swung a bottle of champagne at the bow of our new research vessel (page 144). A man in the rain-spattered crowd said: "I'll bet it bounces off." Others probably thought the same, for Amphitrite's hull is air-filled nylon cloth. Before the launch ing at Nice, however, we rigged a metal plate on the fabric to make sure the bottle broke. It did, and the world's largest in flatable ship, 65 feet long and 29 feet wide, skimmed away to join a new research unit: Airborne Undersea Expeditions.