Last week, something unexpected happened in Antarctica: a British polar research and logistics vessel joined forces with a French cruise ship to deliver scientific cargo in support of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration.
RRS Sir David Attenborough, designed to break 1-metre ice, had been struggling with second-year ice covered with a thick layer of snow in the Stange Sound off the English Coast in Antarctica for over a week. Fortunately Compagnie du Ponant’s Polar Class 2 expedition cruise ship Le Commandant Charcot was nearby and could make a small detour to open a channel from the British ship in what looks like sticky ice porridge.
While first and foremost a luxury expedition cruise ship, Le Commandant Charcot has icebreaking capabilities in par with the world’s largest, strongest and most powerful icebreakers. Featuring our advanced double acting icebreaking hull form and a whopping 34 megawatts of propulsion power from two massive ice-rated Azipod propulsion units, the “undercover heavy polar icebreaker” can overcome more than 2.5 metres of multiyear ice and sail pretty much anywhere in the freezing seas without icebreaker escort. Of course, for most of the time Le Commandant Charcot needs just a fraction of this capability.
More about the recent joint British-French operation in Antarctica: RRS Sir David Attenborough collaborates with cruise ship
More about the capabilities of Le Commandant Charcot and our role in the project: LE COMMANDANT CHARCOT