Clemessy installs two azipods on Le Commandant Charcot for Vard in Saint-Nazaire

Energy Division

The polar expedition vessel Le Commandant Charcot ordered by French shipowner Ponant from shipbuilder Vard (Fincantieri Group) recently had its first technical shutdown in Saint-Nazaire. During this stopover in the Louis Joubert Lock, the ship was entrusted to the care of our naval repairs and construction experts in charge of installing the propulsion systems on the latest addition to the fleet.  

Once the construction of its hull had been completed in Vard’s Romanian shipyard in Tulcea, Le Commandant Charcot was towed to Saint-Nazaire to be fitted with two huge azipods, among the most powerful in the world. The stopover lasted only two weeks in July 2020 - enough time for our specialists to install the two azimuth thrusters designed by Swiss group ABB.  

These 300-tonne propulsion units of 17 MW each are able to rotate 360° about the vertical axis and provide the liner with the necessary thrust in all directions. They make it easier to manoeuvre, while ensuring improved fuel efficiency. The two electrically-powered azipods, each equipped with a large five-bladed propeller, were installed at the back of the boat (and fixed to the hull by 60 tie-rods of 20 kg each). 

These short-term works carried out in shifts (three-eight) required a month of preparation. Apart from fitting the azipods, our teams washed, sandblasted and painted the liner’s hull in red and blue, before writing its name in white. They also inspected the stabilizers.  

At the end of the technical shutdown, the ship continued its journey to the Søviknes shipyard in Norway, where it is to be outfitted and commissioned. Le Commandant-Charcot is the very first hybrid-electric polar expedition ship powered by liquefied natural gas. It is an ocean liner, 150 m long and 28 m wide, with capacity for 270 passengers (135 cabins) and 190 crew. 

Le Commandant-Charcot is Ponant’s thirteenth vessel. Its first cruise to the North Pole is scheduled in July 2021.  

© Eiffage Énergie Systèmes