Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot was involved in a second safety exercise on September 30, 2023 at Herschel Island in the Northwest Passage.
The 12-hour exercise, which involved over a hundred people, was supported by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre based at 8 Wing Trenton in Ontario, Canada, run jointly by the Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Coast Guard. The operation involved the U.S. Coast Guard District Seventeen and Air Station Kodiak (Alaska) and a command unit at the Ponant’s office in Marseille, France.
“We carried out a first rescue exercise on the ice in September 2021 during the ship’s trial voyage. 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,” said Captain, Patrick Marchesseau.
“This joint exercise and sharing of our expertise are contributing to advances in safety for the entire polar maritime and tourism industry”.
Onboard, a total of 65 participants were evacuated to an island in a heated lifeboat and equipped with suits specially designed by Ponant.
The Ice Cube, used to transport survival kits, was pulled by the lifeboat and lifted ashore where polar shelters were set up. 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 while the United States Coast Guard deployed a C-130J Super Hercules and an MH-60T Jayhawk. The aircraft were used to drop survival equipment, parachute in rescue teams and evacuate participants.