PONANT carries out major safety exercise onboard Le Commandant Charcot

PONANT carries out major safety exercise onboard Le Commandant Charcot
Edited by Travel Weekly


    As an expert in polar zone navigation for over 20 years, PONANT is continuing to innovate and advance maritime safety standards.

    Le Commandant Charcot was at the centre of a second safety exercise in the polar region on 30 September 2023 at Herschel Island in the Northwest Passage.

    The PONANT teams aboard and ashore were fully mobilised in this exercise carried out on an unprecedented scale.

    The operation was also supported by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre based at 8 Wing Trenton (Ontario, Canada), run jointly by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Canadian Coast Guard (CCG).

    It involved the U.S. Coast Guard District Seventeen and Air Station Kodiak (Alaska) and a command unit at the PONANT head office in Marseille (France).

    The team involved. (Supplied)

    This exercise spanned 10 time zones and more than a hundred people were mobilised over a 12-hour period.

    “We carried out a first rescue exercise on the ice in September 2021 during the ship’s trial voyage,” captain, Le Commandant Charcot/PONANT, Patrick Marchesseau, said.

    “This time, the operation took place in ice-free water. It’s a world first that allowed us to test our procedures and equipment, as well as the coordination with the Canadian and American services.

    “This joint exercise and sharing of our expertise is contributing to advances in safety for the entire polar maritime and tourism industry.”

    Chris Hall, PONANT’s APAC CEO said the endeavour demonstrates a commitment to safety and excellence in all operations.

    “Safety is one of the key pillars in our Explore to Inspire ambitions and we hope marine exercises such as this inspire guests, new and existing, to travel with PONANT now and in the future,” he said.

    Onboard, 65 participants (including 24 passengers) were evacuated to an island in a heated lifeboat and then equipped with suits specially designed by PONANT.

    Innovative technologies were part of the mission. (Supplied)

    The Ice Cube, an innovative piece of equipment that was also developed by PONANT to transport survival kits, was towed by the lifeboat and hoisted ashore and polar shelters were set up, some of which have been tested with a heating mode.

    The lifeboat was used as a hospital during the 1st part of the LIVEX. For this joint exercise, the Royal Canadian Air Force deployed a CC-130H Hercules, a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter and a CC-138 Twin Otter and the United States Coast Guard deployed a C-130J Super Hercules and an MH-60T Jayhawk.The aircraft were used to drop survival equipment, parachuting in rescue teams and evacuating participants.

    The joint exercise showcases extensive international collaboration aimed at strengthening maritime safety standards and the experience will benefit the entire industry.

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