Hamdan hears plans to refurbish Calypso

The widow of Jacques Cousteau, the French undersea explorer, presents her plan for renovating her husband's research ship.

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The widow of Jacques Cousteau, the French undersea explorer, has met Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Deputy Prime Minister, to present her plan for renovating her husband's research ship. The vessel, Calypso, was hit by a barge and sunk in Singapore Harbour in 1996, a year before Mr Cousteau died. Sheikh Hamdan told Francine Cousteau he would study her plan to renovate the ship, the state news agency, WAM, reported yesterday.

Cousteau, who had been commissioned by what is now Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company, was using Calypso as a base for drilling operations in 1954 when he discovered one of Abu Dhabi's largest oil fields. On a visit to the capital last year, Mrs Cousteau said she hoped the restored Calypso could become "a roving Eiffel Tower" for the environment. "I hope Abu Dhabi will be one of her first ports of call," she said. "So many people around the world remember her. There isn't a day when someone doesn't come up to me and say how much Jacques and Calypso meant to them."

Mrs Cousteau is president of the Cousteau Society, a non-profit organisation set up by her husband in 1973. A long-running legal battle between Mrs Cousteau and her husband's elder son by his first marriage, which centred on the future of Calypso and control of the family name, was settled in favour of the explorer's widow in Oct 2007. On the country's 25th National Day more than a decade ago, Sheikh Zayed, the late founder of the nation, conferred the Order of Independence on Mr Cousteau. Sheikh Hamdan presented the award. dbardsley@thenational.ae