Ponant inaugurates first LNG ship, Le Commandant Charcot

French luxury cruise line christens new polar expedition ship in France

@Studio PONANT - Olivier Blaud

PONANT celebrated the launch of Le Commandant Charcot last Thursday [28 September 2021], the French luxury cruise line’s 13th ship in its’ fleet. The ceremony was attended by Anne Manipoud-Charcot, the great grand-daughter of the explorer the vessel is named after, and Hervé Gastinel, PONANT CEO and Captains Etienne Garcia and Patrick Marchesseau.

“The boldness of this project is not just about taking passengers to the far corners of the Arctic and the Antarctic, it is about doing it safely and following the same values and principles of seamanship that move us. Our values are first about respect for nature – this nature that is so dear to us, all the more knowing how much we owe the oceans and the fragile eco-systems we travel. Polar regions deserve the highest respect and attention. We are committed to this mission every day and today even more,” said Hervé Gastinel, PONANT’s CEO.

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World-renowned Chef Alain Ducasse, architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, director Luc Jacquet, and designer Jean-Philippe Nuel were among the guests alongside other partners of the company including Vard shipyard, Stirling Design International and Aker Arctic.

The launch follows PONANT’s completion of the first Ship to Ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering operation in France on Le Commandant Charcot, in partnership with Gasum, LNG bunkering pioneer. The ship has been eco-designed to employ the latest green technologies starting with LNG, the cleanest fuel available today. It took six years to design and build the prototype of the ship, the first of its kind. Since her delivery on 29 July 2021, the first LNG bunkering operation took place on 25 August in partnership with Gasum in Norway, with the second on 24 September 2021.

In another milestone, Le Commandant Charcot reached the geographic North Pole on 6 September 2021. With Captain Etienne Garcia at the helm and Captain Marchesseau by his side, it was the very first French ship to meet the North Pole (90,000,00°).

Le Commandant Charcot is the first passenger vessel to have high-pressure LNG membrane tanks installed, providing the ship with up to two months autonomy on natural gas, plus impressive bunkering, and operational flexibility, and guaranteeing an even higher standard of safety. It paves the way for new natural gas propulsion methods that are more respectful of the environment and help meet CO2 reduction targets set by the Paris Agreement.

Minimising the environmental impact of its business is a priority for PONANT, and LNG is currently the most eco-friendly marine fuel available. Switching to this energy source totally eliminates SOx emissions and reduces NOx emissions by 85%. LNG also emits 20% less CO2 compared to conventional marine fuels.

“These LNG bunkering operations are the culmination of several years of analysis, engineering and trials to find the safest and most efficient way to perform this operation. The shop reached the geographic North Pole for the first time on 6 September 2021, using liquefied natural gas throughout the long voyage. We are completely satisfied and particularly proud of the technical innovations developed on this ship which have enabled us to achieve such outstanding results in terms of performance,” said Gastinel.

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