PONANT’s expedition cruise ship, ‘Le Commandant Charcot’ carried out her second safety exercise in the Polar region at the end of last month.
This exercise was undertaken at Herschel Island in the Northwest Passage and was carried out to an unprecedented scale, the company claimed.
The operation was supported by the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre based at Trenton, Ontario, operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Canadian Coast Guard (CCG).
It also involved the US Coast Guard’s District Seventeen and Air Station Kodiak (Alaska), plus a command unit at PONANT’s head office in Marseille.
More than a 100 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,” the vessel’s Master, Patrick Marchesseau, explained.
“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 co-ordination 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,” he said.
Chris Hall, PONANT’s APAC CEO, said the exercise demonstrated 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.
On board, 65 people, including 24 guests, were evacuated to an island in a heated lifeboat and then given suits especially designed by PONANT.
Also designed by PONANT, an Ice Cube, developed to transport survival kits, was towed by the lifeboat and hoisted ashore and Polar shelters were set up. The lifeboat was also used as a hospital during the first part of LIVEX.
The joint exercise showcased extensive international collaboration aimed at strengthening maritime safety standards and the experience will benefit the entire industry, PONANT said.