Leading article: Float his boat

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The reputation of the undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau has sprung a few leaks in recent years. But his achievement in bringing the glories and mysteries of the briny deep to a wide global audience still stands as solid as any underwater mountain range. So the appeal by Cousteau's widow, Francine, for the French government to mark the centenary of the filmmaker's birth next month by re-floating his ship, the Calypso (which sank in Singapore harbour in 1996) is a worthy one.

The cultural value of the vessel, which Cousteau used when filming his greatest work, including the pioneering The Silent World, is clear. But there is a practical value too. So much of what goes on in the oceans remains poorly understood by the scientific community. If the Calypso were to be refurbished with mini-submarines, as Ms Cousteau intends, it could continue its valuable work of mapping the world beneath the oceans.

The estimated price of the project – at £6.6m – is not cheap. But with "les Anglo-Saxons" currently presiding over such an oceanic mess in the Gulf of Mexico the French government surely has something approaching a patriotic duty to resurrect the Calypso.