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PONANT’s Le Commandant-Charcot enters final stages of construction

August 3, 2020 Cruise No Comments Email Email

Le Commandant-Charcot, PONANT’s ground-breaking hybrid electric-LNG (liquefied natural gas) luxury polar exploration vessel, has arrived in Saint-Nazaire, France, to be fitted with its Azipod® propulsion systems.

After leaving the Norwegian shipyard of the Vard company in Søviknes, Le Commandant-Charcot has arrived at the Joubert dry dock in Saint-Nazaire. The work to be undertaken here includes the fitting of two Azipod® ABB (Azimuthing electric podded drive) propulsors, with both electric motors driving a five-blade propeller. Each of the pods can pivot 360°, thereby providing propulsion in all directions thus offering great manoeuvrability, particularly in the extreme polar regions where the ship will be operating.

In parallel with this fitment work, the ship’s Polar Class 2 (PC2) rated hull will also be painted. Le Commandant-Charcot will then return to the Søviknes shipyard, where final fitting-out, including its luxurious interiors, will be completed, before scheduled delivery in 2021 and commencement of its inaugural polar voyages which will include the Bellingshausen Sea in Antarctica (departing Puerto Montt, Chile, 1 November 2021) and three expeditions to the Geographic North Pole each departing Longyearbyen, Norway in July and August 2021.

The expeditions may be to extreme places rarely visited yet Le Commandant Charcot will offer the trademark luxuries onboard that PONANT is renowned for plus a range of special extra touches that, in addition to Zodiac outings and shore visits with the Expedition Team may include hot air ballooning, kayaking, hiking, a classic dog sled ride, ice fishing, exploration on electric snowmobiles, polar diving… Le Commandant Charcot will even have its own hovercraft – perfect for polar exploring.

Equipped with 135 staterooms, Le Commandant-Charcot will be the world’s first polar exploration vessel operating on a hybrid electric LNG system. This major innovation is testimony to the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainable tourism with minimal environmental impact.

PONANT will make Le Commandant-Charcot available to the scientific community. As a “ship of opportunity,” it will be fitted out with infrastructure (laboratories, staterooms) and materials, and be available for use by scientists. In this way it will offer a unique platform for observation, research and analysis of the water, air, ice and biodiversity in these extreme polar regions.

With Le Commandant-Charcot, PONANT continues to consolidate its polar expertise as the world leader of polar expedition cruises, drawing on 20 years of experience, and remaining loyal to its philosophy. It will allow the company to maintain responsible activity, in compliance with its commitments to the IAATO, AECO and Cercle Polaire associations, with unique landing protocols and itineraries to preserved sites that are only accessible to limited capacity vessels.

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