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Ifremer mg 5936.jpg
Épaulard at La Seyne-sur-Mer
French Navy EnsignFrance
Name: Épaulard
Namesake: Killer whale
Owner: Ifremer
Builder: ECA Group[1]
Commissioned: 1980[2]
General characteristics
Class and type: remotely operated underwater vehicle
Displacement: 3 tonnes[2]
Length: 4 metres [2]
Beam: 1.1 metres[1]
Height: 2 metres[1]
Depth: 6000 m [2]
Propulsion: Sail
Speed: 1 m/s[1]
Range: 20 km[2]
Endurance: 7 to 12 hours[1][2]
Sensors and
processing systems:
5000-shot BENTHOS 377 photographic camera[1][2]
Armour: Aluminum[3]

Épaulard is a French remotely operated underwater vehicle of the Ifremer. She is notable as the first robotic submarine capable of taking photographs at a depth of 6000 metres. Built in 1980, Épaulard was decommissioned in 1991.


Épaulard was designed and built by ECA Group[1] She was teleoperated from a support ship by means of acoustic signals.[2] While the submarine herself displaced three tonnes, the entire system would use up 35m² of deck space and weight 20 tonnes; such systems were installed on a number of Ifremer ships such as Noroît, Suroît, Atalante or Jean Charcot.[2]

In 1983, she was upgraded with a vertical propeller and a remote TV system with acoustic broadcast of images.[2]


Starting in 1981, Épaulard was used for the study of nodules and shipwrecks on the Pacific seafloor.[2]

She was decommissioned in 1991, having performed 200 missions.[2]

Notes and references[edit]