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ABB technology helps Ponant’s polar explorer to reach the North Pole

Posted on 12 Oct 2021 and read 1108 times
ABB technology helps Ponant’s polar explorer to reach the North PoleLe Commandant Charcot reaches the geographic North Pole. Copyright: Ponant — Nicolas Dubreuil

Last month, the hybrid-electric exploration cruise vessel Le Commandant Charcot became the first of its kind to reach the geographic North Pole, while completing sea trials prior to welcoming guests for the maiden voyage later this year.

Equipped with ABB’s Azipod propulsion technology (the electric drive motor is housed in a submerged pod outside the ship’s hull and can rotate 360deg), the luxury cruise ship produces minimal noise and vibrations.

Moreover, the ship’s energy storage system, supplied and integrated by ABB, is the largest ever delivered to a vessel of its kind at almost 5MWhr, allowing the engines to be switched off for silent emissions-free cruising. Le Commandant Charcot will also be available to the scientific community contributing to the global efforts in the study and preservation of the Poles and oceans.

Mathieu Petiteau, the director of Newbuilding and R&D at the French cruise ship operator Ponant, said: “ABB designed both the Azipod propulsion units and the energy storage system to meet the precise operational requirements of Le Commandant Charcot.

“As well as ensuring a high level of passenger comfort, the vessel is capable of cruising in zero-emissions mode while exploring remote locations. Thanks to the Azipod system’s manoeuvrability, the ship will also be able to navigate smoothly and safely through icy waters.”

Indeed, Le Commandant Charcot is the first cruise ship with the ability to sail in ‘double-acting mode’, meaning it can navigate stern-first in ice conditions to improve safety and complete cruises in a timely and efficient manner. In addition, the Azipod system allows the vessel to be brought to a complete stop in 50% less time than a ship with a traditional shaftline set-up.

ABB’s scope of supply for this pioneering vessel also included power generation and distribution technology, propulsion-control and remote-control systems, and a power and energy management system known as PEMS.

Through PEMS, Le Commandant Charcot will optimise the use of its hybrid power supply — comprising the main power source, liquefied natural gas, and the energy storage system — to ensure optimal engine load with reduced fuel consumption and emissions.