Marion Dufresne and Astrolabe

The primary characteristic of the French Southern and Antarctic territories is their extreme isolation.

Transportation and logistics are the link between the isolated bases and the rest of the world: they are a true umbilical cord essential to the various missions taking place overseas. From the tropics (Eparses islands) to the Southern ocean (Crozet, Kerguelen and Saint-Paul and Amsterdam) and Antarctica (terre Adélie), an effective supply chain is therefore set up to allow the permanent occupation of these remote territories.

The TAAF administration can count on two ships to ensure the continuity of the supply chain: the Marion Dufresne and L’Astrolabe.

The Marion Dufresne

The Marion Dufresne is a polyvalent vessel, specifically designed to withstand the Southern seas and fulfill the logistic missions throughout the austral bases.

  • Freight transport : providing large cargo capacity (4600 m3), the ship can transport all the supplies needed for construction work, science and base life. It is fitted with several cranes making the ship totally autonomous when it comes to embarkation and disembarkation of freight.
  • Passenger transport :   the ship can embark up to 112 passengers.
  • Scientific campaigns : the scientific equipment on board (650 m² of laboratories, winch systems, bathymetry equipment and giant corer) are used to conduct scientific programs.

The TAAF administration charters the Marion Dufresne 120 days a year and the Ifremer institute (Institut français pour l’exploitation de la mer – French institute for sea exploitation) sub charters the vessel 217 days a year.  

TAAF chartering

The Marion Dufresne mainly conducts four logistic missions a year in the Southern territories. These missions are called “OP” (Opréations Portuaires – port operation) and provide the Subantarctic bases (Crozet, Kerguelen, Saint-Paul and Amsterdam) with the all supplies and staff needed.

Ifremer sub chartering

Every year, oceanographic campaigns are produced by the Ifremer Institute on the Marion Dufresne over all oceans around the world in order to and measure the state and evolutions of the living ecosystems and the underwater geological assemblages.

Technical data :

Overall lenght : 120,50 m
Width : 20,60 m
Depth : 12,80 m
Draught : 6,95 m
Weight : 10.380 t
Deadweight : 4.900 t
Freight : 2.500 t
Propulsion and Power : 3 diesel-generator set, total 8250 kW
Autonomy : 2 months
Max. speed : 16 knots
Passengers : 112
Max. crew : 46 members

Le Marion Dufresne
Photo : © Nelly GRAVIER
Photo : © Nelly GRAVIER



The icebreaker vessel L’Astrolabe is the result of a partnership among the TAAF administration, the French Navy and the French polar Institute (IPEV – Institut polaire français Paul-Emile Victor). The ship is the property of TAAF and is fitted out by the French Navy.

It carries out two main missions:

Logistic mission

The French Navy conducts freight and passenger transportation missions for the benefit of the TAAF administration and the IPEV institute. From Hobart, Australia to the French Antarctic base, Dumont d’Urville in terre Adélie, the vessel sails more than 2700 km four to five times a year during austral summer (November to February).

Defense mission

Based in La Réunion, L’Astrolabe carries out missions related to sovereignty and Action of the State at sea in the Indian Ocean and in the TAAF. Therefore, it strengthens the French presence in its Exclusive economic area (more than 2 300 000 km²).  For instance, it is involved in the fight against illegal fishing.

Technical data:

Overall length : 72 m

Width : 16 m

Total power : 6400 kW.

Passengers : 60

Max. Crew : 30

Helicopter : Ecureuil type

Max speed : 14 knots

Deadweight : 1200 t

Lightship weight : 2860 t.

Photo : © P PIRIOU
Photo : © Nelly GRAVIER
Photo : © P.PIRIOU