Built in 1986, the MV L’Astrolabe is the main resupply vessel used by l’Institute Polaire to support research for the French Antarctic program and resupply the Dumont d’Urville base. Based in Hobart, the ship is occasionally chartered by the Australian Antarctic Division.

L’Astrolabe is named after the astrolabe, an instrument once used by navigators to measure the position of stars in the sky to determine local latitude.


  • Motor Vessel (MV)
  • Ice class A-super
  • 2 main engines each 2270 kilowatts, 2 shafts, 2 variable pitch propellers
  • length: 65 metres
  • beam: 12.8 metres
  • capacity: 949 tonnes dead weight
  • crane lifting capacity: 32 tonnes
  • rear A-frame lifting capacity: 20 tonnes
  • 50 passengers in 13 cabins; 12 crew

Key Antarctic voyages

In the spirit of international cooperation in the Antarctic, over the years L’Astrolabe and the Aurora Australis have assisted each other in difficult ice conditions.

In addition to L’Astrolabe’s extensive Antarctic career, during the 1991 French, Japanese and Russian collaborative expedition it became the first European ship since 1922 to complete the Northwest Passage through the Arctic to Japan.

Current life

In addition to its service to the French Antarctic program, the ship also regularly resupplies the joint French and Italian station Concordia at Dome C.