Fleet Testing Facilities

The hyperbaric testing workshop manages and implements three high-pressure chambers of different sizes and features to simulate extreme depths (greater than 10,000 m). They are filled with oil, freshwater or seawater, and regulated for pressure and temperature.

The facilities include:

  • Acquisition and real-time processing of pressure measurements
  • Real-time visualization by video camera up to 1,000 bars
  • Hydraulic and electric connections, watertight up to 1,000 bars
  • Underwater hydraulic power pack
  • Various pieces of hydraulic equipment and electric connector technology



1,000 bars TDI

1,500 bars

1,000 bars with viewport

Max. pressure

1,000 bars

1,500 bars

1,000 bars

Effective height

1 metre

0.3 metre

0.1 metre

Effective diameter

0.3 metre

0.15 metre

0.07 metres between viewport or 0.08 metres

Pressure cycling




Temperature regulation (°C)

-20 °C to +40 °C

-20 °C to +40 °C


Electrical and hydraulic




Compression fluid

Freshwater, seawater, oil or Mayoline


Principal uses

  • Development, qualification and acceptance of enclosures resistant to external pressure
  • Qualification of high-pressure optical and electrical connectors
  • Development, qualification and acceptance of various electric motors with measurements
  • Qualification of viewports (hemispherical, flat)
  • Testing of underwater electrical and electro-optical cables; measuring insulation, dielectric strength and optical attenuation
  • Behaviour of materials under pressure (foams, floats, combined materials)
  • Studying the behaviour of living marine organisms

The temperature-regulated climatic chamber is used for:

  • Developing various pieces of equipment and functional trials
  • Analysing the behaviour of various pieces of equipment and materials in variable temperatures and saline atmospheres
  • Qualifying compliance with the standards in force


  • Length: 720 mm
  • Height: 660 mm
  • Depth: 660 mm
  • Temperature: -25 °C to +150 °C
  • Regulation: to +/- 0.1  °C

The French Oceanographic Fleet has two water-cooled engine test benches for testing under load from various actuators.

10 kW bench:

  • Max torque 200 Nm at a max speed of 480 rpm
  • Max torque 32 Nm at a max speed of 3,000 rpm

1 kW bench

  • Max torque 10 Nm at a max speed of 950 rpm
  • Max torque 2.4 Nm at a max speed of 4,000 rpm

 The indoor test tank is used to test and validate medium-sized robotic systems (ROVs, underwater manipulators). It provides a work and test environment that is convivial and practical for freshwater trials. The tank is housed at the Robotique Navigation et Visions Sous-Marines Laboratory and with other IFREMER partners.


  • Tank dimensions: 3.6 x 3.8 metres and 2.8 metres deep
  • 8 underwater floodlights and several transparent viewports


  • PISCATOR robotic gantry
  • Electric overhead crane for handling systems
  • IT facilities (Unix machines, PC network)
  • Mechanical and electrical tools

Piscator is an instrumented gantry designed for testing, calibrating and qualifying underwater equipment, in particular optical imaging (video cameras, lighting), acoustics (echo sounders, sonar) and navigation systems (inertial systems, gyroscopes, etc.). It is installed in a freshwater tank with a volume of approximately 27 m3.

Piscator is a robotic gantry with 6 degrees of freedom. It comprises 2 horizontal axes for linear movement and a vertical axis for immersion. The vertical axis is rotative and fitted with an instrumented handle possessing 2 degrees of rotative freedom.


  • Digitally controlled gantry
  • 3 motorized linear axes (X, Y, Z)
  • 1 motorized rotation (on the vertical Z axis)
  • 2 motorized rotations on the handle at the end of the Z axis
  • 20 kg payload in the water (max.), 35 kg in the air (max.) 
  • Payload volume (max.): length 500 mm, diameter 200 mm


  • Linear speed (max.): 0.25 m/s
  • Linear acceleration (max.): 4 m/s
  • Angular speed (max.): 0.2 rad/s
  • Linear repeatability: 20 µm
  • Angular repeatability: 1/100th of a degree

Vortex is an adaptable submersible for testing and demonstrating underwater robotics. The system is entirely modular and can be configured either as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) or an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). It offers an ideal base for developing and innovating in the field of underwater robotics.

Thanks to its Li-ion batteries and an embedded computer Vortex can be used in a tank or dock or at sea with an operational endurance of four hours. In autonomous mode Vortex communicates with the surface control room via radio at the surface and via acoustic modem underwater. The surface control room comprises the operator interface and a MIMOSA station for mission scheduling and monitoring.


  • Weight: 220 kg
  • Dimensions: 1.3 x 1.1 x 1 m
  • Working depth: 50 m
  • Power: Li-ion battery, 3,800 Wh
  • Embedded computer: PC Atom
  • Device controller: proprietary in Windows

Communication interfaces

  • Optical fibre
  • Wi-Fi buoy
  • Radio modem
  • Acoustic modem
  • Ship’s ethernet network

Embedded sensors

  • Video camera
  • Digital camera
  • Scanning sonar
  • Gyroscopic attitude control unit
  • Immersion, altitude
  • Doppler log

The TAO workshop is concerned with computer-assisted remote underwater handling. Its purposes are:

  • Assess the feasibility or functioning of remotely operated systems and processes
  • Develop operating procedures
  • Train operators using its Maestro 7-function manipulator arm, which is identical to the manipulator on the Victor 6000 submersible
  • Test sensors, robotics-related systems and tools
  • Develop the associated control algorithms and actuators

The French Oceanographic Fleet has at its disposal acoustic measuring equipment for characterizing transducers and hydrophones, and for carrying out operations for calibrating echo sounders. It undertakes measurements on its own behalf, and places its measuring equipment at the disposal of the scientific community and industry. Depending on the frequency range, tests can be carried out at sea, in the test tank or in the Fleet’s acoustic tank.

The acoustic tank enables users to measure three parameters: sensitivity at emission and at reception, directivity using a stepping motor (resolution 0.3 °), and electrical impedance in the frequency range 8 kHz–1 MHz for loads up to 50 kg.

The associated laboratory equipment includes standard transducers, signal synthesizer, power amplifiers, weak noise voltage preamplifiers, digital oscilloscopes, and impedance bridges.

This device can be transported to the large test tank for measuring lower frequencies, starting at 1.5 kHz, and for loads up to 500 kg.



Acoustic tank

  • Length: 4 m
  • Breadth: 2.5 m
  • Depth: 2 m

Test tank

  • Length: 50 m
  • Breadth: 13 m
  • Depth: 10/20 m