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Suffren Class Heavy Cruiser

good detailed view of Foch
good detailed view of Foch
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Ship Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
Suffren Brest Navy Yard 17 Apr 26 3 May 27 1 Jan 30 Broken up 1974
Colbert Brest Navy Yard 12 June 27 20 Apr 28 4 Mar 31 Scuttled at Toulon 27 Nov 42
Foch Brest Navy Yard 21 Jun 28 24 Apr 29 15 Sep 31 Scuttled at Toulon 27 Nov 42
Dupleix Brest Navy Yard 14 Nov 29 9 Oct 30 20 Jul 32 Scuttled at Toulon 27 Nov 42

Displacement: 10,000 tons/10,160 tonnes (standard); 12,780 tons/12,984 tonnes (full load).
Length: 636ft 6in/194.0m (oa); 607ft/185.0m (pp).
Beam: 63ft/19.10m; Draught: 20ft 9in/6.35m (mean).
Machinery: 3-shaft Rateau-Bretagne SR geared turbines; 9 Guyot boilers.
Performance: 90,000shp=31kts; Bunkerage: 1,800tons oil fuel.
Range: 4,500nm at 15 kts.
Protection: Suffren: 50mm main belt; 25mm U/deck & main deck; 30mm turrets; 30mm CT. Others: 54-60mm main belt; 22-25mm* U/deck & main deck; 30mm turrets; 30mm CT. *Dupleix 30mm.
Guns: eight 8in (4x2); eight 3.5in (8xl) (Dupleix4x2); Suffren: eight 75mm (8xl); eight 37mm (4x2); twelve 13.2mm UGs (4x3).
Torpedoes: six 21.7in (2x3).
Aircraft: three except Suffren two, two catapults.
Complement: 752 (war) except Suffren, 773.

The 1925 programme included provision for another 'Washington' or heavy cruiser, based on the Tourville design but sensibly incorporating increased protection at the expense of speed. Extra beam and a three-shaft machinery arrangement were noticeable variations from the Tourville design. The installed power was reduced by 25 per cent, but the weight saved allowed a 50mm armoured belt and a 25mm deck, the armour totalling 951 tons, twice that of Tourville, whilst the top speed was only reduced to 31kts. The 8in guns were of the same mark as those of the first French heavy cruisers, as were the secondary guns. The torpedo battery was reduced to two triple banks, but two catapults were fitted instead of the one, on the superstructure abaft the after funnel. The aircraft issued were Loire-Nieuport 130s, of which two could be accommodated. An order was placed with the Brest Naval Yard on 1 November 1925, and the name Suffren allocated. A second ship was authorised under the 1926 programme (Law of 4 August 1926), and ordered from the same yard on 1 March 1927. However, while it was nominally a sister ship, the new unit, Colbert, differed in a number of ways and could properly be described as a half-sister. She was slightly shorter in length overall, and had reduced beam, partly as a result of a rearrangement of the armour. Her appearance differed from that of the first ship in that the catapults were now between the funnels, and a different pattern of crane was fitted. Three aircraft could now be accommodated. There were also other minor differences in rig details.

As far as the armament was concerned, the only change was the replacement of the 75mm AA by new M1926-pattern 90mm (3.54in) guns, still in single mountings.

Internally, economies in the weight of the machinery allowed the scale of protection to be increased to a total of 1,374 tons, of which the vertical protection was brought inside the hull and increased to 54-60mm for the whole length of the machinery spaces, whilst the shell plating was reduced to 20mm (.79in). The side spaces abreast the after boiler room and along the engine rooms were filled with coal, which served as additional protection and as fuel for the auxiliary cruising boilers. Installed power was increased to 106,000shp for a maximum speed of 33kts.

In 1927 a third unit was authorised and ordered from Brest once more, with the name Foch. This ship differed again in detail, in that the coal-fired boilers were not fitted but the coal bunkers were retained as protection, while the auxiliary boiler room was converted to an oil bunker. Hull dimensions differed only marginally from those of Colbert, but again there were minor differences in rig.

Dupleix, the final unit of the class, differed yet again in that her protection was further augmented to a total of 1,553 tons, mainly due to an increased main deck of 30mm (1.25in). Unlike the others, however, she shipped her 90mm in pattern M1930 twin mountings. Once again, the Brest Naval yard won the order, which was placed on 1 April 1929 under the programme for that year.


No major alterations were carried out before the war, nor for some time thereafter. Suffren, after her re-entry into active service in 1943, landed the aircraft fittings, torpedo tubes and main mast in exchange for two quadruple 40mm Bofors, which replaced the latter. Twenty 20mm singles were added, around the bridge, in the waist and on the quarterdeck. Colbert had her light AA augmented while in Vichy service in 1941/42, receiving six 37mm, (6 x 1), twenty 13.2mm (4 x 4, 2 x 2) and four 8mm (4 x 1). Foch and Dupleix received eight single 37mm and twenty 13.2mm, plus seven and three 8mm respectively.


Suffren entered service in 1929, having achieved an average speed of 32.5kts on trial with 100,089shp, then joined the 1st Light Division and served with the Mediterranean Squadron until 1939. However, in the spring of that year it had been decided to relieve Primaguet with Suffren, and as a result she sailed from Toulon on 21 June 1939 bound for Saigon, where she arrived on 23 July as flagship of the Indo-China squadron. On the outbreak of war she carried out patrols in the South China Sea and searched for German merchantmen off the Dutch East Indies. Then, at the end of November 1939, she arrived at Singapore to participate in the escorting of major Australian troopship convoys across the Indian Ocean, together with HMS Kent. These duties continued until the end of April 1940, and on 5 May Suffren sailed from Columbo to return to the eastern Mediterranean via Aden and Suez. On 18 May she arrived at Alexandria for service with Admiral Godfroy's squadron. There was time for only one raid into the Aegean after Italy's declaration of war and before the French armistice, between 11 and 13 June, but this was without result. A second operation for the purpose of bombarding the port of Bardia on 21 June in company with Duguay-Trouin and Lorraine was also completed. Then, as a result of the armistice, Suffren remained immobilised for the next three years until, in May 1943, Admiral Godfroy decided to rejoin the Allies. After circumnavigating Africa the cruiser arrived in Dakar on 3 September 1943, from where she immediately began search patrols into the south Atlantic for Axis blockade runners. This duty continued until 1944, the ship sailing as far afield as Recife in Brazil, and she then spent the remainder of the war under refit at Casablanca. Postwar, she carried out a number of transport and repatriation missions between Metropolitan France and Indo-China before an active tour of duty in Indo-China between 26 February 1946 and 21 March 1947, when she arrived back in Toulon. On 1 October 1947 the ship was placed in reserve and used as a pontoon base at Toulon.

Colbert - February 1941
Colbert - February 1941
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Colbert joined the 1st Light Division in the Mediterranean on completion, where she spent the next few years in normal peacetime duties. A major refit was carried out at Lorient between 16 February 1935 and January 1936, after which she joined the International Patrol in Spanish waters during the Civil War. In September 1939 she was based at Oran, then returned to Toulon in January 1940, being placed under the orders of Admiral (Africa) on the 24th for patrol duties in connection with the search for Admiral Hipper. Returning to France in April, she remained based at Toulon until the declaration of war by Italy, when she participated in a raid into the Gulf of Genoa on 13 June, bombarding shore positions and in turn being attacked by Italian MTBs. After the armistice she began a major refit at Toulon on 1 August 1940 and was placed in care and maintenance until December. In January 1941 she joined the 1st Cruiser Division, but on 27 November 1942, on the entry of German forces into the unoccupied zone, she was sabotaged by her crew, the resultant fires burning for six days and breaking out again on 7 December, by which time the ship was a total loss. The burnt-out hulk was raised and scrapped in 1946/47.

Foch saw service in the protection of French interests during the troubles in Greece in March 1935, and thereafter served with the 1st Light Division, the 3rd Light Division and finally with the 1st Cruiser Division of the 3rd Squadron, being based at Toulon by September 1939. In October she was detached to Oran to join the Franco-British hunting groups searching for German raiders in the Tropics, then carried out escort duties between Morocco and Bermuda until February, when she returned to Toulon for refit. After re-entering service, Foch participated in the bombardment of the Italian coast near Vado on 13/14 June, her last operation with the Allied forces. She remained in service with the Vichy French High Seas Force at Toulon until 4 October 1941, when she was reduced to care and maintenance. On 27 November 1942, following sabotage by her crew, Foch sank at her moorings. Refloated on 16 Apr 1943 by the Italians, she was then scrapped.

Dupleix - October 1940
Dupleix - October 1940
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Dupleix served with the Mediterranean forces as part of the 1st Light Division from completion until the outbreak of war, undergoing a major refit in 1937. In 1939 she was detached to Dakar to hunt for German raiders and merchantmen in the south and central Atlantic, assisting in the capture of the 4,627-ton Santa Fe by contre-torpilleurs on 25 October. On her return to the Mediterranean she took part in the raid on Genoa in June 1940, and after the armistice remained at Toulon until she was scuttled on 27 November 1942. Although refloated on 3 July 1943, she was subsequently sunk again during an air raid in 1944.

nice pic - Dupleix and Foch
nice pic - Dupleix and Foch
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