Vessels and On-board Systems research unit

The Vessels and On-board Systems (Navires et Systèmes Embarqués — NSE) research unit is a targeted research unit whose activities focus on developments for IFREMER’s fleet of vessels: coastal and ocean-going ships and common on-board instruments. It also oversees the construction or renovation of IFREMER’s ships as well as the development of their scientific equipment.


Located in Brest, the NSE research unit is made up of two research groups:

  • Vessels and Equipment (Navires et ÉquipementsNE): This service oversees for IFREMER the construction and modernisation of IFREMER vessels in collaboration with the scientific community and GENAVIR. It is responsible for all vessels and especially the scientific and IT equipment, real-time data acquisition and data visualisation software and satellite telecommunications equipment. It contributes, under the auspices of DMON, to the development of the Ship Improvement Plan (PEF), maintenance according to the Medium-Term Plan (PMT) for the upgrade of shipboard equipment and the Fleet Equipment and Works project.
  • Underwater Acoustics and Data Processing (Acoustique Sous-marine et Traitement de l'InformationASTI): This research group is in charge of the R&D activity in underwater acoustics primarily for underwater mapping, characterisation of sediment layers, fisheries and physical oceanography. It also develops tools and methods for processing and ensuring the quality control of sonar data as well as new methods and procedures to improve the performance of these systems. It is in charge of developing software for processing recorded data, mainly for sonar systems.

Research focus

The missions of the NSE unit involve all IFREMER vessels and the global integration of equipment, in particular:

  • Scientific equipment, composed of sensors and their peripheral devices (e.g. sonar), towed equipment (mainly seismic tools), coring equipment, winches and cables as well as the deployment apparatuses necessary for the various instrument systems and scientific laboratories and technical rooms;
  • The IT equipment provided for scientists and operating crew on-board vessels (servers, networks, distributed data processing, telephone systems, etc.) for conducting scientific cruises;
  • Real-time software primarily for data acquisition/data visualisation software for data acquired at sea by vessels and underwater vehicles and for ship logging as well as processing software. In collaboration with the scientific community, SISMER, SHOM and GENAVIR, it contributes to the implementation of software for on-board data qualification;
  • Transmission equipment (satellite in particular) to favour land-sea communications between on-board crew and land-based teams and rationalise cruises.