RV Le Suroît

RV Le Suroît is a French research vessel operated by IFREMER.[3] In 1985, it was involved in the successful Franco-American expedition to find the wreck of the RMS Titanic.[4][5]

Le Suroît docked in Concarneau in 2007
Name: RV Le Suroît
Operator: Genavir[1]
Builder: Ateliers et Chantiers de la Manche, Dieppe[2]
Launched: 1975
Refit: 1999
Homeport: Brest[2]
Fate: active in service
General characteristics [3]
Type: Research vessel
Tonnage: 946 GT
Displacement: 1,132 long tons
Length: 56.34 m (184.8 ft)
Beam: 11 m (36 ft)
Draught: 4.10 m (13.5 ft)
Installed power:
  • 2 × 600 hp (450 kW)
  • 1 × 210 hp (160 kW)
Speed: 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
  • 14 (without accommodation container)
  • 17 (with accommodation container)
Crew: 1623

Since being refurbished in 1999, the vessel is able undertake bathymetric and seismic research, as well as coring, dredging, and trawling tasks.[3]


The vessel was commissioned and built in 1975 by Ateliers et Chantiers de la Manche in Dieppe, Seine-Maritime.[6] In 1985, the ship was equipped with the new System Acoustique Remorquè (SAR) sonar device. In early summer, the vessel undertook a 10-day sonar mission[7] in an attempt to find the wreckage of RMS Titanic.[4] Aboard Le Suroît on this mission was Robert Ballard. Le Suroît was able to rule out large sections of a pre-determined 150-square-mile (390 km2) search area between 26 July and 6 August, 80% of the area had been searched.[8] It later transpired that on one of its first passes, Le Suroît had come within only 3,300 feet (1,000 m) of Titanic.[9] The mission ended on 6 August,[5] after which RV Knorr travelled from the Azores to concentrate on more specific areas using different strategies.[4]

In October 2011, the vessel was on assignment in Crete[10] before travelling to La Seyne-sur-Mer in December.[2]

Facilities and equipment

The vessel is equipped with a range of devices. The computers run IFREMER's CARAIBES mapping software.[1] The coring cable is 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) long and is made of Kevlar. It has a safe working load (SWL) of 8 tons.[1] The ship also has a 6-kilometre (3.7 mi) steel winch, with an SWL of 2.1 tons. The average cruising speed, and the speed at which surveying is undertaken, is approximately 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).[11]


  1. "Vessel Data and Contact Information". College of Marine Studies, University of Delaware. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  2. "LE SUROIT - IMO 7360368". ShipSpotting. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  3. "RV Le Suroît". Ocean Facilities Exchange Group. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  4. "1985 Discovery of Titanic". Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  5. Alfred, Randy (2 September 2008). "Sept. 2, 1985: Hey, Everyone, We Found the Titanic". Wired. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  6. Trillo, Robert L (1978). Jane's ocean technology. Jane's Yearbooks. p. 250.
  7. "Discovery of Titanic". Titanic-Titanic. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  8. Eaton, John P; Haas, Charles A (1989). Titanic: Destination Disaster. ISIS Large Print. p. 169. ISBN 1-85089-305-5.
  9. Ballard, Robert D. (1987). The Discovery of the Titanic. New York: Warner Books. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-446-51385-2.
  10. "Oceanographic research ship Le Suroit (France)". Sailwx. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  11. "Specifications". IFREMER Fleet. IFREMER. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
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