The Marion Dufresne is Europe’s largest multi-purpose vessel. In service since 1995, it has two primary functions:

  • Oceanographic research: under the responsibility of the French Polar Institute (Institut Polaire Français Paul-Emile Victor – IPEV), this exceptionally sea-worthy ship allows scientists to work in all weathers. It is equipped with 650m2 of laboratories, winching systems for handling heavy equipment, multibeam sonar and a 75 m corer. 217 days per year are devoted to oceanographic missions.
  • The logistics of France’s subantarctic islands: Kerguelen, Crozet... the ship supports all resupplying expeditions within the Territory of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF). It carries out 4 tours of the southern regions per year (120 days). 

The Marion Dufresne (c) Hélène Leau, French Polar Institute



16 knots

maximum speed









©French Polar Institute

The Marion Dufresne by ipev

A little history

Marion Dufresne was the name of an eighteenth century French sailor and explorer, Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne, whose discoveries included the Crozet Archipelago in the southern Indian Ocean. 

Born in Saint-Malo in 1724 into a bourgeois family of shipowners and traders, Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne began sailing at a very young age. He established a career in the French East India Company, and voyaged throughout the Indian Ocean. During an expedition that set sail from the Isle de France (Mauritius), he and his First Officer, Julien Crozet, discovered an archipelago of islands, one of which bears his name. He came to a tragic end in New Zealand in 1772.