Brest (AFP)

The new polar ship Astrolabe, launched in 2017 to supply the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (Taaf), is no longer able to ensure its rotations because of a "serious damage", we learned Monday from of the Paul Emile Victor Polar Institute (IPEV).

"We expect the expertise to know when we will be able to resume rotations," said AFP Aude Sonneville, head of communication of the Institute, for which it would be the first time such rotations are canceled.

"We will not be able to deploy all of our scientific projects," she lamented, assuring that this damage also disrupted the campaign usually carried out during the austral summer (from October to March) at Dumont station d'Urville, as well as the return of the winterers and the delivery of the new ones. "It messes up everything," assured Aude Sonneville.

The damage would be at one of the two shaft lines, the device that connects the engine to the propeller of the boat. "Dives are taking place right now to see if the boat can sail in the state or not," said AFP Eric Lavault, spokesman for the Navy, who arms the ship and is in charge of his interview.

The first logistic rotation of the austral summer (called R0) scheduled from Hobart, Australia, on November 14, was canceled. The second (R1), scheduled for December 3, is also canceled, according to the institute based near Brest and responsible for scientific projects on Dumont d'Urville and Concordia bases.

The polar patrol boat makes five rotations every year to the Taaf during the austral summer, when bases are accessible. The vessel was built as part of a partnership between Taaf, IPEV and the Ministry of Defense.

72 meters long, the icebreaker can accommodate up to 60 people and carry 1,200 tons of cargo for 35-day missions. It also has a helicopter platform.

At a cost of 50 million euros, it was ordered in June 2015 by the Ministry of Overseas Piriou Concarneau yards to replace the old Astrolabe, who arrived at the end of life, and the Albatross, disarmed in 2015.

© 2019 AFP