Pluviôse-class submarine

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A postcard of Vendémiaire in harbor, 8 June 1912, before her collision with the battleship Saint Louis
Class overview
Name: Pluviôse class
Operators:  French Navy
Preceded by: Circé class
Succeeded by: Brumaire class
Subclasses: Thermidor
Built: 1908–11
In commission: 1908–19
Completed: 18
Lost: 5
Scrapped: 13
General characteristics
Type: Submarine
  • 404 t (398 long tons) (surfaced)
  • 553 t (544 long tons) (submerged)
Length: 51.12 m (167 ft 9 in) (o/a)
Beam: 4.96 m (16 ft 3 in)
Draft: 3.15 m (10 ft 4 in)
Installed power:
  • 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) (surfaced)
  • 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) (submerged)
  • 1,000 nmi (1,900 km; 1,200 mi) at 8.5 knots (15.7 km/h; 9.8 mph) (surfaced)
  • 27 nmi (50 km; 31 mi) at 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) (submerged)
Complement: 2 officers and 23 crewmen
  • 1 × 450 mm (17.7 in) bow torpedo tube (first 6 boats only)
  • 1 × twin 450 mm Drzewiecki drop collar
  • 4 × external 450 mm torpedo launchers (4 × facing forward, 2 × aft)

The Pluviôse-class submarines were a group of 18 submarines built for the French Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. Before World War I, two were accidentally lost, but one of these was salvaged and put back into service. Four others were lost during the war and the survivors were stricken in 1919.


The French Navy built 34 Laubeuf-type submarines between 1906 and 1911. These are usually described as two classes, of which the Pluviôse class was one, the other being the Brumaire class.[1] (Another source[2] treats the vessels as one group, divided by the yards that built them) The boats had two naming schemes; the earlier vessels were named after the months of the French Revolutionary calendar, and the later ones after French scientists. However the difference is not reflected in the class division; nine boats of the Pluviose class were named for the months, and nine for scientists.


The Pluviôse class were Laubeuf type submarines, following the Laubeuf standard design of double hull and dual propulsion systems (as did the Brumaire class). The Pluviôse boats had electric motors for underwater propulsion, and are usually listed as having steam engines for surface propulsion, though in practice this was mixed. The earlier boats had steam engines (preferred by Laubeuf in the early stages as he felt petrol engines (favoured by his rival JP Holland) were unsafe; however, later Laubeuf type submarines, such as the Circé class, predecessors to the Pluviôse and Brumaire classes, had used diesel engines, and later Pluviôse boats had diesels.


The Pluviôse class were ordered in the 1905 programme and the first vessels were laid down in 1906. They were built at three of the French Navy’s dockyards, at the Arsenals of Cherbourg, Rochefort and Toulon. The first of the class, Pluviôse, was launched in May 1907, and the last, Gay-Lussac in March 1910.[1]


The Pluviôse-class submarines were armed with 17.7-inch (450 mm) torpedoes, of which eight were carried. They had one 17.7 inch torpedo tube mounted in the bow, with one torpedo loaded and one carried as a reload, and six carried externally. Of these two were in Drzewiecki drop-collars and four in external cradles alongside the conning tower, two trained forward and two aft.[1]

Service history[edit]

The Pluviôse class were acknowledged to be good sea boats and saw action throughout the First World War on patrol and close blockade duty. Of the eighteen built, five were lost. One (Vendémiaire) was accidentally lost prior to the war, in 1912. Two others, Floréal and Priarial, were lost accidentally during the conflict, while Monge and Fresnel were lost in action.[1]

Ships in class[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Gardiner 1985, pp. 209
  2. ^ a b Jane's p199


  • Couhat, Jean Labayle (1974). French Warships of World War I. London: Ian Allen. ISBN 0-7110-0445-5. 
  • Gardiner, Robert & Gray, Randal (1985). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5. 
  • Garier, Gérard (2002). A l'épreuve de la Grande Guerre. L'odyssée technique et humaine du sous-marin en France (in French). 3–2. Bourg-en-Bresse, France: Marines édition. ISBN 2-909675-81-5. 
  • Garier, Gérard (1998). Des Émeraude (1905–1906) au Charles Brun (1908–1933). L'odyssée technique et humaine du sous-marin en France (in French). 2. Bourg-en-Bresse, France: Marines édition. ISBN 2-909675-34-3. 
  • Moore, J: Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War I (1919, reprinted 2003) ISBN 1 85170 378 0
  • Roche, Jean-Michel (2005). "Classement par types". Dictionnaire des bâtiments de la flotte de guerre française de Colbert à nos jours 2, 1870 - 2006. Toulon: Roche. ISBN 978-2-9525917-0-6. OCLC 165892922. 

External links[edit]