Ponant launches polar exploration ship Le Commandant Charcot

Ponant launches polar exploration ship Le Commandant Charcot


The launch was attended by executives and guests from Ponant and its partners in Le Havre

Ponant has launched its new polar exploration vessel, Le Commandant Charcot, with an official ceremony in Le Havre, France. 

The ceremony was attended by Anne Manipoud-Charcot, the great-granddaughter of the ship’s namesake and explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot, along with Hervé Gastinel, Ponant’s CEO, and Captains Etienne Garcia and Patrick Marchesseau. 

The event began with a performance by violinist Namanja Radulovic and pianist Laure Favre-Kahn. Chef Alain Ducasse, architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, director Luc Jacquet, and designer Jean-Philippe Nuel were among the guests, alongside representatives from other organisations involved in the project, including Vard shipyard, Stirling Design International and Aker Arctic. Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, the French ambassador for the poles, and Jérôme Chappellaz, director of the Paul Emile Victor Institute, were also in attendance. 

"The boldness of this project is not just about taking passengers to the far corners of the Arctic and Antarctica, it is about doing it safely and following the same values of seamanship that move us,” said Gastinel. “Our principles are about having a respect for nature – knowing how much we owe the oceans and the fragile ecosystems we travel. Polar regions in particular deserve the highest respect and attention. We are committed to this mission every day.” 

Le Commandant Charcot is a Polar Class 2 vessel, allowing her to cut through ice floe up to seven feet thick to reach rarely visited destinations. The 123-cabin ship will operate using a mix of LNG fuel and battery power and will produce no emissions while sailing purely using battery power.  

The vessel has been outfitted with a scientific laboratory for conducting operational oceanography missions and research. Guests will be able to participate in the research and experiments during sailings under the supervision of naturalist guides and onboard scientists. For example, they will be able to help set up a research station on an ice floe, take water samples, and deploy an Argos transmitter, which is a satellite-based system that collects and shares environmental data.

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Alex Smith
By Alex Smith
04 October 2021

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