Monthly Archives: November 2010

SV L’Astrolabe


The L’Astrolabe is the French 65 meter multi purpose supply vessel used to support the French Southern and Antarctic Territories. Her home port is Brest but shes’s normally based in Hobart (Tasmania) from where sails toward South from end October till March in order to transport materials and persons.

Built in Canada, launched in 1986 as “Fort Resolution” and later renamed “Austral Fish”  was a typical Supply vessel for offshore works. 

Canada - SV Fort Resolution

Canada - SV Austral Fish

in 1988 was acquired by the French company FISH and modified in order to become the support vessel for french operation in Antarctica: closed cargo area was added with the helideck on top as well  accomodations for 50 passengers. Actually is managed by P&O.

France - SV L'Astrolabe (FISH)

France - SV L'Astrolabe

Fatal helicopter crash in Antartcica

The AS350 Squirrel helicopter went missing on October 29 after taking off from the French research ship Astrolabe, carrying a pilot, a mechanic and two staff from the Dumont d’Urville French Antarctic research base. Australian and US air force planes have spotted three bodies and debris strewn 150m around the site of the crash of helicopter in Antarctica.
The helicopter, flying in poor visibility and rough weather was carrying staff and supplies between the French research vessel and supply ship, l’Astrolabe and the country’s Dumont d’Urville research base in Adélie Land, in south-east Antarctica. The US and Australian planes picked up a distress beacon signal, and flyovers over the zone – the planes also dropped survival equipment at the site. Meanwhile l’Astrolabe and an Australian ice-breaker, the Aurora Australis, are making their way to the scene .
On October 30 better weather, allowed a helicopter and rescue team from the Dumont d’Urville to take off at 12:45 local time (UTC +10h) and reach the crash site. The team found no survivors, and repatriated one body to the base, before a second flight repatriated the remaining three bodies. Aerial support for the rescue operation was provided by a Hercules C130 aircraft, dispatched to the zone by Australian authorities.
I flown several times from and to the L’Astrolabe’s helideck (shown also in the picture on top of my blog) and it is very difficult to add any comment.
Just few days ago I was checking the position of L’Atrolabe nearby Macquarie Island and I was thinking that the “2010 Rotations” were started… unfortunately very bad.