Marion Dufresne

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Consult the 2020 calendar of the Marion Dufresne’s rotations in the Sub-Antarctic Islands

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 until 2018 and now under Ifremers’s.
  • 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: Louis Dreyfus Armateur


  • Ifremer 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.