French battleship Suffren

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File:French battleship Suffren.jpg
Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Namesake: Pierre André de Suffren de Saint Tropez
Builder: Brest, France
Laid down: 5 January 1899
Launched: 25 July 1899
Commissioned: 1903
Fate: Torpedoed by U-52, 26 November 1916
General characteristics
Type: Pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 12,750 tonnes
Length: 128.8 m
Beam: 21.3 m
Draught: 8.6 m
Propulsion: 24 coal boilers, 3 triple-expansion steam engines, 3 propellers
Speed: 18 knots at 16,000 hp
Complement: 730

4 × 305mm/40 Modèle 1893 guns
10 × 164 mm Modèle 1896 guns
8 × 100mm/10 guns

2 × 450 mm torpedo tubes

305 mm belt and magazines
70 mm on upper deck, 40 mm bottom deck

325mm turrets

The Suffren was a pre-dreadnought battleship of the French navy, launched in July 1899 and torpedoed off Lisbon on 26 November 1916, going down with all hands. She was named after French admiral Pierre André de Suffren de Saint Tropez.


Like the Charlemagne class which preceded her, the Suffren carried her main armament of four 305 mm (12.0 in) 40-caliber Canon de 305 mm Modèle 1893/96 guns in two twin-gun turrets, one each fore and aft. The guns could probably be depressed to −5° and elevated to 15°. The guns fired 340-kilogram (750 lb) projectiles at the rate of 1 round per minute at a muzzle velocity of 780 metres per second (2,600 ft/s) which gave a range of 12,000 m (13,000 yd) at maximum elevation.[1]

The ship's secondary armament consisted of eight 164.7 mm (6.48 in) 45 caliber Canon de 164 mm Modèle 1893 guns, which were mounted in individual casemates. The guns fired 52-kilogram (110 lb) shells at a muzzle velocity of 865 metres per second (2,840 ft/s) to a maximum range of 9,000 metres (9,800 yd). Suffren also carried eight 100 mm (3.9 in) 45 caliber Canon de 100 mm Modèle 1893 guns in shielded mounts on the shelter deck. These guns fired a 12-kilogram (26 lb) projectile at 710 metres per second (2,300 ft/s), which could be trained up to 20° for a maximum range of 9,500 metres (10,400 yd). Their theoretical maximum rate of fire was six rounds per minute, but only three rounds per minute sustained.[1]

Sixteen 47 mm (1.9 in) 40 caliber Canon de 47 mm Modèle 1885 Hotchkiss guns were mounted as anti-torpedo boat guns. They were mounted in platforms in the foremast and mainmast and on the superstructure. They fired a 1.49-kilogram (3.3 lb) projectile at 610 metres per second (2,000 ft/s) to a maximum range of 4,000 metres (4,400 yd). Their theoretical maximum rate of fire was fifteen rounds per minute, but only seven rounds per minute sustained.[2]

Construction and Service

Suffren, named after the French admiral Pierre André de Suffren de Saint-Tropez,[3] was laid down on 5 January 1899 and launched in late July of the same year. Commissioned in 1903,[3] she saw service in World War I.

In 1915 Suffren was the flagship of the squadron of four French battleships, commanded by Rear-Admiral Émile Guépratte, which took part in the naval operations in the Dardanelles Campaign. During the attack on the Narrows of the Dardanelles on 18 March 1915, Suffren suffered heavy damage from Turkish shore-based artillery which flooded compartments and disabled a number of guns. Suffren underwent repairs at Malta.[3]

Having supported operations at Gallipoli and Salonika, Suffren was returning to Lorient for a refit when, on 26 November 1916, off the Portuguese coast near Lisbon, she was torpedoed by U-52 at around 18:00. Accumulated damage meant she could only manage 10 knots but heavy seas meant she was only travelling at 9 knots, and without an escort, when attacked. The torpedo detonated a magazine and Suffren sank within seconds, taking the crew of 648 with her. U-52 rushed to the scene but found no survivors.[4][3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Caresse, p. 121
  2. Caresse, pp. 121–22
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3
  4. UC-38

fr:Suffren (cuirassé) ja:シュフラン (戦艦)