French ironclad floating battery Lave

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Lave, one of the first ironclad floating batteries.
OrderedJuly 1854
BuilderLorient, France
Cost1.23 million French Francs
Laid down20 August 1854
Launched5 June 1855
Maiden voyage6 August 1855
FateScrapped in 1873[1]
General characteristics
Class and typeDévastation-class ironclad floating battery
Displacement574 tonnes
Length53.02 m (174.0 ft)
Beam13.35 m (43.8 ft)
Draught2.66 m (8 ft 9 in)
  • Sail (three-masted, 885 m²)
  • single screw, Mazeline steam engine, 150 shp
Speed4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph)
  • 1st battery: 16 × 50 + 2 × 12 cm
  • 2nd battery: 2 × 24 + 6 × 19 + 3 × 16 cm
Armour110mm iron plates (100mm over the batteries), plus 440mm oak planking.

Lave was an ironclad floating battery of the French Navy during the 19th century. She was part of the Dévastation class of floating batteries.

In the 1850s, the British and French navies deployed iron-armoured floating batteries as a supplement to the wooden steam battlefleet in the Crimean War. The role of the battery was to assist unarmoured mortar and gunboats bombarding shore fortifications. The French used three of their ironclad batteries (Lave, Tonnante, and Dévastation) in 1855 against the defences at the Battle of Kinburn (1855) on the Black Sea, where they were effective against Russian shore defences. They would later be used again during the Italian war in the Adriatic in 1859.[1]

Ironclad floating battery of the Dévastation class, spending the winter in Crimea, winter of 1855–1856.

The ships were flat-bottomed, and commonly nicknamed "soapboxes". They were towed from France to Crimea to participate in the conflict. Lave was towed by the paddle frigate Magellan.


  1. ^ a b (in French) Classe Dévastation Archived 2007-09-05 at the Wayback Machine in Dossiers Marine


  • de Balincourt, Captain; Vincent-Bréchignac, Captain (1973). "French Floating Batteries". F.P.D.S. Newsletter. I (2). Akron, OH: F.P.D.S.: 13–20. OCLC 41554533.
  • Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.