In service1984
General characteristics
TypeDeep-submergence vehicle
Length8.0 m (26.2 ft)
Beam2.7 m (8.9 ft)
Draft3.81 m (12.5 ft)
Installed powerElectric motor
Test depth6,000 m (20,000 ft)

Nautile is a crewed submersible owned by Ifremer, the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea. Commissioned in 1984, the submersible can be operated at depths of up to 6 km (3.7 mi).[1]


Nautile is capable of housing three people. It has a length of 8 m, still imaging cameras, two colour video cameras, and a number of LED floodlights. It is fitted with two robotic arms to allow remote manipulation. This makes it easier to inspect, image, and gather materials from areas otherwise unaccesible to the vehicle.[2] Nautile can stay underwater for up to eight hours at a time. Six of those hours can include work on the sea floor.

Two ships can act as mothership to Nautile: Pourquoi Pas? and Atalante. In its early days, Nautile was launched from RV Nadir.[1]


Without the need for a physical link to support its operation, the submersible can be readily deployed in a variety of environments. It's most commonly used to survey specific areas, collect samples, and assist in the investigation and recovery of wrecks.[1]

The vessel has been used to examine the wrecks of the RMS Titanic and MV Prestige, and to search for the black boxes from Air France Flight 447[3]

During the inspection of the Titanic, it used a small manipulator arm known as "ROBIN" to retrieve numerous artifacts.[4] Equipped with CCD type cameras, ROBIN is only 60 x 50 x 50 cm large and weighs 130 kg. In August 1987, a 54-days expedition collected new images, videos, and objects from the wreck.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Nautile". French oceanographic fleet. Archived from the original on 2023-12-23. Retrieved 2023-11-17.
  2. ^ "NOVA Online | Into the Abyss | Deep-Sea Machines (2)". Archived from the original on 2023-06-01. Retrieved 2023-11-17.
  3. ^ "Air France Black Box Seeking Sub Is Titanic Veteran". Archived from the original on 2024-01-30. Retrieved 2024-01-30.
  4. ^ "30 years ago, ECA got involved in the inspection of the TITANIC wreck". ECA Group. Archived from the original on 2023-11-17. Retrieved 2023-11-17.