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Épaulard at La Seyne-sur-Mer
French Navy EnsignFrance
NamesakeKiller whale
BuilderECA Group[2]
General characteristics
Class and typeremotely operated underwater vehicle
Displacement3 tonnes[1]
Length4 metres [1]
Beam1.1 metres[2]
Height2 metres[2]
Depth6000 m [1]
Speed1 m/s[2]
Range20 km[1]
Endurance7 to 12 hours[2][1]
Sensors and
processing systems
5000-shot BENTHOS 377 photographic camera[2][1]

Épaulard is a French remotely operated underwater vehicle of the Ifremer. She was 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[2] She was teleoperated from a support ship by means of acoustic signals.[1] 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.[1]

In 1983, she was upgraded with a vertical propeller and a remote TV system with acoustic broadcast of images.[1]


Starting in 1981, Épaulard was used for the study of nodules and shipwrecks on the Pacific seafloor.[1]

She was decommissioned in 1991, having performed 200 missions.[1]