French battleship Vérité
Vérité in the United States in 1909
|Laid down:||April 1903|
|Launched:||28 May 1907|
|Fate:||Broken up for scrap|
|Class & type:||Liberté-class pre-dreadnought battleship|
|Displacement:||14,860 t (14,630 long tons; 16,380 short tons)|
|Length:||133.81 m (439.0 ft) pp|
|Beam:||24.26 m (79.6 ft)|
|Draft:||8.41 m (27.6 ft)|
|Propulsion:||3 triple-expansion steam engines, 18,500 shp (13,800 kW)|
|Speed:||19 knots (35 km/h)|
Vérité was a pre-dreadnought battleship of the Liberté class built by the French Navy. She had three sister ships: Liberté, Justice, and Démocratie. Vérité was laid down in April 1903, launched in May 1907, and completed in June 1908, over a year after the revolutionary British battleship HMS Dreadnought made ships like Vérité obsolete. She was armed with a main battery of four 305 mm (12.0 in) guns, compared to the ten guns of the same caliber mounted on Dreadnought.
Vérité took the French President on a goodwill trip to Russia in 1908 and visited America in September 1909. In September 1911, she was damaged by the explosion that destroyed her sister Liberté in Toulon. At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, she covered troop convoys from North Africa to France along with the rest of the French Mediterranean Fleet. She spent the rest of the war based at Corfu and later Mudros, without seeing any action at either location. After the end of the war, she was stricken from the naval register and broken up for scrap in 1922.
Vérité was laid down at the Forges et Chantiers de la Gironde shipyard in Bordeaux in April 1903, launched on 28 May 1907, and completed in June 1908, over a year after the radically innovative British battleship HMS Dreadnought, which rendered the pre-dreadnoughts like Vérité outdated before they were completed. The ship was 133.81 meters (439 ft 0 in) long between perpendiculars and had a beam of 24.26 m (79 ft 7 in) and a full-load draft of 8.41 m (27 ft 7 in). She displaced up to 14,489 metric tons (14,260 long tons; 15,971 short tons) at full load. The ship had a crew of between 739 and 769 officers and enlisted men. Vérité was powered by three vertical triple expansion engines with twenty-two Belleville boilers. They were rated at 18,500 indicated horsepower (13,800 kW) and provided a top speed of 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph). Coal storage amounted to 1,800 t (1,800 long tons; 2,000 short tons).
Vérité's main battery consisted of four Canon de 305 mm Modèle 1893/96 guns mounted in two twin gun turrets, one forward and one aft. The secondary battery consisted of ten Canon de 194 mm Modèle 1902 guns; six were mounted in single turrets, and four in casemates in the hull. She also carried thirteen 9-pounder guns and ten 3-pounders. Additionally, the ship was armed with two 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes submerged in the hull. The ship's main belt was 280 mm (11.0 in) thick and the main battery was protected by up to 350 mm (13.8 in) of armor. The conning tower had 305 mm (12.0 in) thick sides.
Vérité's first major assignment was received in late July 1908, a month after she joined the French fleet. She carried the President of France Armand Fallières to Reval, Russia, arriving on 27 July. There, Fallières visited with the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, who inspected Vérité. She joined Liberté and Justice for a visit to the United States for the Hudson-Fulton Celebration in September 1909. The three ships, representing France during the celebrations and commanded by Admiral Jules le Pord, were the first foreign ships to arrive. The ships departed from Brest and reached New York seven days later, having run at an average of 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph); the performance of the ships' propulsion systems was regarded as satisfactory by contemporary naval experts, including the United States Naval Institute. In early 1911, the French Navy conducted experiments with wireless telegraphy, and used Vérité and Justice for the tests. The wireless transmitters could pick up messages as far as 72 miles (116 km) away. On 25 September 1911, Liberté was destroyed by an accidental explosion in Toulon, the result of the spontaneous combustion of nitrocellulose gel in her ammunition magazines. Debris hurled by the explosion damaged several nearby battleships, including Vérité.
At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Vérité was assigned to the 1st Division of the 2nd Squadron in the Mediterranean, along with République and Patrie. The French fleet was initially used to cover the movement of French troops—the XIX Corps—from Algeria to metropolitan France. As a result, the fleet was far out of position to catch the German battlecruiser SMS Goeben, which, contrary to French expectations, steamed to Constantinople rather than attempt to interfere with the troop transports. For the majority of the war, the French used their main fleet to keep the Austro-Hungarian fleet bottled up in the Adriatic Sea. In 1914 she participated in the Battle of Antivari, where the battle line caught the Austro-Hungarian cruiser SMS Zenta by surprise and sank her. The French battleships then bombarded Austrian fortifications at Cattaro in an attempt to draw out the Austro-Hungarian fleet, which refused to take the bait.
The French operations in the area were hampered by a lack of a suitable base close to the mouth of the Adriatic; the British had given the French free access to Malta, but it was hundreds of miles away. The Austrians also possessed several submarines, one of which torpedoed the dreadnought Jean Bart in December 1914. The threat from underwater weapons greatly limited French naval activities in the Adriatic. As the war progressed, the French eventually settled on Corfu as their primary naval base in the area. Later in the war, Vérité was sent to Mudros along with her sister ships. After the end of the war, Vérité was stricken from the naval register in 1922 and subsequently broken up for scrap.
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