Calypso going green with Volvo Penta

The legendary ocean researcher and diver Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s research ship “Calypso” is currently being restored in France. Fully overhauled, the vessel will sail as the flagship for the Cousteau Society and help inform the general public about the seas and the environment all over the world.

The whole renovation project is being carried out as green as possible with an important part being the engines chosen: The new Volvo Penta marine diesels are way below current emissions regulations and also very fuel efficient to minimize CO2 emissions.

The Calypso is just as legendary as its captain, Jacques-Yves Cousteau. She was built of wood on the American West Coast in 1942 and originally served as a minesweeper in the British Navy. After the war, she served briefly as a ferry in the Mediterranean and in 1950 captain Cousteau got the chance to lease her for a symbolic sum. After that, the two were inseparable.

Sunk in 1996
It was aboard the Calypso that Jacques-Yves Cousteau did his research and produced his TV films that helped to spread environmental awareness and knowledge over the whole world.

In 1996, Calypso sank as the result of an accident in the port of Singapore. She was lifted but practically a wreck. When Jacques-Yves Cousteau died the year after, their long relationship was at an end. However, the non-profit Cousteau Society now decided to restore the Calypso and fund raising started.

An environmental restoration
After a long spell in Marseilles, and La Rochelle the Calypso was towed in 2008 to Concarneau shipyard in Bretagne where she was laid up in a dry dock and the restoration commenced.

The Cousteau Society aims to make the restoration and the finished ship as green as possible. For example, the wood used is sourced locally, the sewage system will be closed and the engines the most environmental friendly available.

“The Volvo Penta D16-650 fulfils every demand from the customer, especially when it comes to low emissions. The D16 have NOx levels that are uniquely low”, explains Jean-Philippe Totot at the Volvo Penta centre Le Pocher, which will deliver the engines along with installation support and training for the onboard crew.

Low on fuel and CO2
The two Volvo Penta D16s used for propulsion are not only very low on emissions, they are also very fuel efficient. The Calypso is expected to reach a top speed of 15 knots, and with a preferred cruising speed of 10 knots fuel consumption will be radically reduced compared with the old engines – which equal the reductions in CO2 emissions.
The delivery from Volvo Penta also consists of two marine generating sets for the ship’s electrical power requirements: one D5A at 90 kWe and one D7A at 130 kWe.

Relaunch in 2009/2010
The restoration is scheduled to take approximately a year at a total cost of EUR 6 to 7 million. If all things work as planned, the Calypso should be ready for her new duties in late 2009 or 2010.
You can follow the progress of the restoration at

Propulsion engines

2 x Volvo Penta D16, each 650 hp.
Low emissions that fulfil IMO, River Rhine stage 2 and DNV Clean Design regulations.

Marine Gensets
D5A TA at 90 kWe.
D7A TA at 130 kWe.

Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau
Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau left his mark forever on the planet and the oceans. Born on June 11, 1910, in France. He trained as a naval officer. In 1936, he went swimming underwater with goggles. It was the start of a lifelong career.

Together with Emile Gagnan, he developed the Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, or scuba in 1943, and the world under the sea was opened up to human beings.
Through more than 115 television films and 50 books, Captain Cousteau opened up the oceans to millions of households.

In 1974, Captain Cousteau created The Cousteau Society, a US-based, non-profit membership group. In 1981, Equipe Cousteau was born in France. Today, these organisations play an important role as ambassadors for the marine environment. Through joint ventures with Google Earth and You Tube, these organisations help spread knowledge through today’s media.

Captain Cousteau died on June 25, 1997, at the age of 87. The man is gone but his message has never been more alive.

March 2, 2009

For further information, please contact Robert Ferm, AB Volvo Penta, phone: +46 (0) 31 3231410, E-mail: robert [dot] ferm [at] volvo [dot] com