MV Astrolabe 1988-

L'Astrolabe receives a load of RTA pallets from a LARC
L'Astrolabe receives a load of RTA pallets from a LARC (Photo: Adrian Gibbs)

L'Astrolabe is the main resupply vessel used by l'Institute Polaire for the resupply of the French base, Dumont D'Urville, in Adelie Land. Based in Hobart, it has also been chartered by ANARE.

The vessel has been used every year since the 1988-89 summer season to resupply Dumont D'Urville. In addition, it regularly carries passengers and cargo for the joint French and Italian station of Concordia at Dome C.

Built in 1986, l'Astrolabe is a multi-purpose vessel also used for oceanographic cruises and marine science. Specifications include:

  • two main engines, two shafts, two variable pitch propellers. Each main engine 2,270 kW
  • length 65m
  • beam 12.8m
  • draft 4.8m
  • gross tonnage 1753 UMS
  • load displacement 2,300 tonnes
  • dead weight 949 tonnes
  • crane lifting capacity 32 tonnes
  • rear A-frame lifting capacity 20 tonnes
  • 12 crew
  • passenger capacity 50 passengers in 13 cabins
  • Ice class A-super
  • flag: French / Kerguelen Island
  • home port: Port-aux-Français (Kerguelen Islands)
  • operator; "Surf" shipping company, France

The ship was chartered at short notice by the Antarctic Division for one voyage in the 1998-99 summer, during the time that the Aurora Australis was laid up for repairs following a ship-board fire.

In August 1991, L'Astrolabe became the first European ship since 1922 to complete the Northeast Passage through the Arctic to Japan during a collaborative French, Japanese and Russian expedition.