The renowned French research vessel, Marion Dufresne II arrived at Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque on 14 March for a project that will extend her life by a further twenty years. The work will span a total of 4 months. On 30 March, the vessel went into dry-dock for a 6-week period, during which the yard will carry out an extensive scope of work.
The multi-purpose vessel is owned by Les Terresaustrales et antarctiques français (TAAF) and managed by CMA CGM. Marion Dufresne II carries out oceanographic research under the responsibility of the Institut Polaire Paul-Eimile Victor (IPEV). The client selected Damen Shiprepair & Conversion following an extremely competitive tendering process. After careful consideration of the vessel’s requirements, Damen opted to carry out the work at the Dunkirk yard in northern France.
Khalil Benjelloul, Head of Sales & Marketing at Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque, details the extent of the work the yard will perform, beginning with a replacement of the vessel’s most important scientific apparatus: “One of the major parts of the work will be the replacement of the vessel’s multi-beam sonar. For this we will scrap the existing equipment, rebuild the ship’s hulland install a new gondola and control room.
“Additionally, we will change the ILOT capstan – a system used to take samples – which involves a lot of access work, install a new sewage tank, modify the air-conditioning system and renew the A-frames.”
It’s not only equipment that the yard is refurbishing, however. Marion Dufresne II will also receive a visual overhaul. “We will completely blast and repaint the hull and some of the ballast tanks. Actually, almost the entire vessel will have a fresh look.”
This includes the vessel’s accommodation, which the yard is renewing in cooperation with the client’s subcontractor. Marion Dufresne II has accommodation capacity for 104 scientific researchers and 46 crew. Additionally, the accommodation areas of the vessel include laboratory facilities used by IPEV scientists.
Operating out of the Port of La Réunion, the ship transports passengers and supplies to remote locations of scientific interest around the Indian Ocean. Much of her previous work has involved the vessel operating in the Crozet and Kerguelen Islands, in the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.
Having logistical as well as research capabilities, Marion Dufresne II is a multi-purpose vessel with a heli-deck. Mr Benjelloul explains: “In addition to her scientific capabilities, the vessel is able to act as a supply vessel and to transport containers and fuel to remote areas.”
Following completion of the project, Marion Dufresne II will return to these remotes areas, sailing first to La Réunion and from there once again to the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.