French cruiser De Grasse
|Namesake:||François Joseph Paul de Grasse|
|Launched:||11 September 1946|
|Commissioned:||10 September 1956|
|Struck:||25 January 1974|
|Displacement:||9,389 t (9,241 long tons) standard, 12,350 t (12,155 long tons) full load|
|Length:||199.3 m (653 ft 10 in)|
|Draft:||5.54 m (18 ft 2 in)|
|Speed:||33.8 knots (38.9 mph; 62.6 km/h)|
De Grasse was an anti-aircraft cruiser of the French Navy. She was the first French vessel named in honour of François Joseph Paul, marquis de Grasse Tilly, comte de Grasse. From 1965 to 1971, she was involved in the nuclear test campaigns in the Pacific.
De Grasse was designed in the late 1930s, as the lead ship of a series of three cruisers a little heavier than the preceding La Galissonnière-class cruisers, notably with an improved anti-aircraft equipment. The other two ships Chateaurenault and Guichen were cancelled.
Specifications (1938 design)
- Displacement: 8000 tons standard, 11,431 tons full load
- Dimensions: Length 180.4 m (w.l.), beam 18.6 m, draught 5.5 m
- Machinery: two-shaft steam turbine, 4 boilers, 110,000 hp (82,000 kW)
- Speed: 35 knots (65 km/h)
- 9 × 152 mm guns (3 turrets)
- 6 × 100 mm guns (3 twin turrets)
- 8 × 37 mm guns
- 8 × 13.2 mm machine guns
- 6 × 550 mm torpedo tubes
- Belt: 100 mm
- Deck: 38 mm
- Turrets: 100 mm
- Conning tower: 95 mm
- Aircraft: 2 catapults, 2 seaplanes
- Crew: 691
World War II capture
The unfinished ship (some 28% complete) was captured in June 1940 by the invading Germans during the Second World War. In April 1942 the Germans began planning to convert De Grasse to a light aircraft carrier, provisionally named II. On 3 December 1942 Hitler ordered that De Grasse was to be built as an aircraft carrier for Germany but the work was stopped in February 1943 for several reasons, including a lack of materials and manpower and the threat of air attacks in Lorient.
After the war the hull was eventually launched in 1946. The construction was halted again between 1946 and 1951, when she was towed to the Brest Navy yard to be completed, to a significantly modified design as an anti-aircraft cruiser.
- Displacement: 9380 tons standard, 12,350 tons full load
- Dimensions: Length 188.4 m (o.a.), beam 18.6 m (w.l.) ; 21.5 m , draught 5.5 m (standard) ; 6.3 m full load
- Machinery: two-shaft steam turbine, 4 boilers, 105,000 hp (78,000 kW) (120,000 hp (89,000 kW) during trials)
- Speed: 33.8 knots (62.6 km/h)
- 16 × 127 mm guns (8 twin turrets)
- 20 × 57 mm guns (10 twin turrets)
- No more aircraft and no more torpedo
The trials began on 17 August 1954 and she was commissioned on 10 September 1956.
Nuclear testing Flagship
She was used as an anti-aircraft cruiser and flagship within the Mediterranean squadron, until she was selected to join the Pacific Experimentation Centre to participate in the first nuclear tests in French Polynesia. She undertook some modification in from May 1964 until February 1966, with the bridge being doubled, a 50 meters high quadripod mast mounted on the aft roof and half the armament removed. The ship was also made gas-tight and fitted with washdown facilities. The equipment was modernised and the crew was downsized to 560 men, to make accommodation available for 160 engineers and technicians.
The ship was used for six testing campaigns between 1966 and 1972. She was decommissioned in 1973 and was sold for scrap on 25 January 1974. Scrapping took place in La Spezia (Italy) in 1975.
- Gröner, p. 77
- John Jordan and Bruno Guire, The Cruiser de Grasse in Warship 2008, Conway's Maritime Press.
- Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships: 1815–1945. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870217909.