Marion Dufresne

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Marion Dufresne Calendar 2016 – V8

The Marion Dufresne is a multi-function ship. It was launched in 1995 and has two main missions:

  • Oceanographic research: covering most of the oceans, under IPEV’s responsibility. Retrouvez ici toutes les campagnes du Marion Dufresne.
  • Logistical support for the French subantarctic islands: Crozet, Kerguelen, Amsterdam/Saint-Paul, under the TAAF’s responsibility.

MarionDufresne-Science-LoubnaTERHZAZ-2013-IPEV (27)

The vessel plays several roles, as :

  • research ship (R/V) equipped with 650 m² of laboratories, a winching system handling heavy plant and materials, a Thalès multibeam echosounder and a heavy-duty Calypso Giant ice corer unique of its kind.
  • passenger ship for transporting research station personnel and visitors to the Southern territories and islands (110 passengers) ;
  • cargo vessel with 4600 m³ carrying capacity for heavy containers and packaged loads, doted with two 25 tonne twinnable cranes and three service cranes;
  • oil tanker for delivering fuel to the bases ;
  • helicopter carrier for Écureuil, Lama or Dauphin craft ;

Given the regions where the Marion Dufresne has to sail and the harsh environmental conditions it has to withstand, improvements have been made for on-board safety and reliability in line with current merchant fleet standards.

  • Overall length: 120.50 m
  • Beam: 20.60 m
  • Depth: 12.80 m
  • Draft: 6.95 m
  • Displacement: 10 380 t
  • Deadweight: 4.900 t
  • Cargo capacity: 2.500 t
  • Propulsion: Diesel Electric
  • Installed power: 2 x 3000 kW
  • 1750 kW bow thruster
  • 2 shafts
  • 2 flap rudders
  • Maximum speed: 16 knots
  • Passengers: 110
  • Complement: 10 officers + 20 sailors + 20 temporary operators

Builder: Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre (Commissioned 12 May 1995)

Owner: CMA-CGM The French Line


  • Institut polaire French Paul-Émile Victor (IPEV) for oceanography
  • Territoire des Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (TAAF) for logistics


As a scientific research vessel the Marion Dufresne is one of the largest in the world fleet, owing to its dual function as a logistics and supply ship which endows it with additional capabilities. It is endowed with exceptional sea-keeping ability which enables it to operate in all weathers. The accommodation possibilities, capacity for cargo transport and handling and endurance allow long and arduous ocean-going campaigns.

Its diesel-electric propulsion gives it the flexibility and discretion necessary for scientific operations.

Equipped with leading-edge modern systems, the research vessel is operational in all fields of oceanography:

  • marine geosciences,
  • biological oceanography,
  • physics and chemistry of the oceans…

Its special features and performance capabilities for sedimentary coring and palaeoclimatology are internationally recognized. The ship’s Giant CALYPSO corer makes it one of the only ships able to collect sediment cores longer than 60 m.

The Calypso Giant corer is central to the international programme IMAGES. Since 1995, this programme involving 26 nations aims to collect and interpret palaeoclimatic data yielded from cores obtained in all the the worlds oceans. To date, 18 oceanographic”IMAGES” campaigns have been run on Marion Dufresne.

For all information on sedimentary coring: Marine sediments and palaeoecology


  • 3 GPS navigation systems (with SkyFix differential correction)
  • Doppler speed log, gyro-compass, time-server
  • PosMV320 Attitude control and navigation system
  • Posidonia Ultra-short baseline underwater acoustic positioning system
  • Simrad Albatross Dynamic positioning system


  • Aanderaa Central weather station and acoustic anemometer
  • 2 distribution circuits for “clean” sea water to laboratories
  • 2 continuous- thermosalinographs, 2 RDI acoustic Doppler current profilers
  • 3 bathymetric sounders, 1 24 bottle carousel (rosette)


  • Multibeam echosounder, TSM 5265B (SF11 revision 2) dual frequency (12 kHz and/or 3.5 kHz) with sea bottom profiler
  • Analogue echo-sounder system (3.5, 12, 18 kHz)
  • Monobeam echo sounder, ODEC Bathy 2000, 4 frequencies (3.5, 12, 18, 34 kHz)
  • Marine proton magnetometer, Geometrics G886
  • Marine gravimeter, Lacoste & Romberg n° S77 (revision 2: digital and gyrolaser)
  • Seismology: 2 onboard seismic compressors, Luchard 150 m³/h

IT and Telecommunications

  • Data acquisition and archiving, video control, 10/100 Ethernet network, Intranet
  • Computer workstations (Sun, HP, IBM), computer terminals (PC and Mac), plotters and printers
  • Software: Mathlab, General Mapping Tools (GMT), Caraïbes TR/TD (@Ifremer)
  • 2 Inmarsat systems (M and B), 1 Iridium telephone, marine VHF transceiver
  • Batched e-mail and data transmission (64 kbits Inmarsat B)


  • Total surface area: 650 m², potential for adding lab containers (> 12) on decks and helicopter platform

Integrated rear heavy sampling (SIAMOIS)

  • 33 t new-generation belt capstan, compatible with aramid cable (50 t)
  • 3 x 7500 m reels of large-diameter cable (up to 30 mm)
  • 2 x 10/30 t long-travel gantries (back and side)
  • 3 handling winches, 2 cranes (18 t and 3 t), winches, telescopic booms
  • 20-foot mobile platforms equipped with trawl winches and large-diameter reels
  • A range of large-diameter samplers
  • Dredges…

Core drilling plant

  • CALYPSO Giant corer (10 t – length 70 m)
    and its handling system: telescopic booms, integrated winches, platforms and telescopic supports
  • Giant square corer CASQ (0.25 m² x 12 m)

For all information on sedimentary coring : Marine sediments and palaeoecology

Light starboard oceanography facilities (ILOT System)

  • 2 x 4 t traction winches (compatible with aramide)
  • 3 reels, 2 electric cables (diameter 11.5), one 8 t aramide cable
  • Double long-travel gantry
  • Bathymetric sounding point


Floating University

  • The Marion Dufresne regularly hosts students as part of the Floating Universities scheme.
  • The Teachers at Sea programme has the purpose of taking secondary school teachers aboard.
  • The Versailles education authority offers on its site educational activities on the topic “Marine sediments and palaeoclimate”, which use core samples collected in 2008 during the AMOCINT campaign.

What is a Floating University ?     

A Floating University offers Masters or higher level students from France or overseas a unique opportunity for ocean-going scientific discovery and data acquisition and to take advantage of high-level international training from the onboard scientific team.

To meet this objective, the programme provides intense series of daily courses on subjects related to the host research campaign: especially global climate change, marine environment and palaeoecology. Accompanying lecturers, other scientist aboard but also Marion Dufresne technical officers ensure the instruction and training. Students also become directly involved in the operations of an international scientific research team in that they must take full part in scientific watch duties.
Other training offered covers international scientific communication and exchange of knowledge in English. They have to write a report in English and do a project in pairs to devise two posters (one scientific and one technical) focusing on a specific research activity. The posters are presented before a jury at the end of the mission and classified by order of merit.

Another goal of the Floating University is to give students from developing countries in the zone covered by the ongoing oceanographic campaign the opportunity to gain the knowledge they need for taking part in the global debate on the uses of the oceans.

Latest floating universities

  • 10th Floating University during the AMOCINT campaign (MD168)

Leader: Jacques DEVERCHERE, lecturer-researcher at the Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer – IUEM (Brest).
Participants: 6 students from IUEM
Dates: 15 June to 10 July 2008
Place: North Atlantic with embarkation at Las Palmas (Canaries) and disembarkation at Brest.
Note: A tour of the University of Las Palmas was made before departure; exhibition of posters produced during the AMOCINT campaign held during the Brest 2008 event.

  • 11th Floating University during the MICROSYSTEMS campaign (MD169)

Leader: David GRAINDORGE, Lecturer at IUEM
Participants: 1 student from LSCE (Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Envirionnement), 3 students from IUEM, 2 Spanish students from University of La Coruña
Dates: 15 July to 25 July 2008
Place: North Atlantic with embarkation at Brest and disembarkation at Algeciras (Spain)

Find the Log of the 8th Floating University (MD155 MARCO POLO 2) on line from: site du laboratoire EPOC.