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Bougainville-class aviso
Rigault de Genouilly SLV Green 1938.jpg
Rigault de Genouilly in 1938
Class overview
Operators:  French Navy
Planned: 10
Completed: 8


Beautemps Beaupré and La Perouse were not completed.[1]
Lost: 6
General characteristics (Bougainville)
Type: Aviso
Displacement: 1,969 tons[1]
Length: 103.70 metres (340.2 ft)[1]
Beam: 12.98 metres (42.6 ft)[1]
Draught: 4.80 metres (15.7 ft)[1]
Propulsion: 2 Diesel engines (Sulzer or Burmeister & Wain), 3,200 shp
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h)
Range: 13,000 nautical miles at 8.5 knots (15.7 km/h; 9.8 mph);
7,600 nautical miles at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph);[1]
Fuel capacity: 297 tons[1]
Complement: 13 or 14 officers & 121 or 125 men in peacetime;
166 or 183 men in wartime[1]

3x138mm guns model 1927 in single mountings
4x37mm AA guns in single mountings

6x13.2 mm machine guns 50 naval mines
Armour: bullet-proof plating of control positions[1]

The Bougainville class was a type of colonial aviso or sloop of the French Navy of the 1930s that were designed to operate in remote locations of the French Empire.

The ten ships of the Bougainville class were built from 1931 to 1940 in various French naval yards. The ships were designed to operate autonomously from French colonies in Asia and Africa with a capacity of 297 tons of diesel, giving a endurance distance of 13,000 nautical miles (24,000 km). Their shallow draught allowed them to operate on large rivers, while carrying an infantry company. In this respect they were an improvement over existing gunboats.

Eight of the Bougainville-class avisos were commissioned, the two remaining ships (Le Beautemps-Beaupré and La Pérouse) were still under construction during the Fall of France. Le Beautemps-Beaupré was scuttled in the Gironde Estuary on 24 June 1940.[1]

The ships of the Bougainville class had varied careers that were typical of French Naval ships of the period and were torn between the Free French Naval Forces and Navy of Vichy France. With the ships of Vichy France being hunted by both the Axis and Allies at different times during the war.

On 9 November 1940 there was a rare case of fratricide between two ships of the same class when Bougainville, lead ship of the class and loyal to the Vichy government, fought her sister ship Savorgnan de Brazza, who served in the FNFL.[2] This battle happened off of Libreville, during the Battle of Gabon. After a short exchange of fire Savorgnan de Brazza had reduced Bougainville to a wreck and forced her to beach to avoid sinking. Bougainville later foundered in March 1941 during a re-floating operation.[3]

The Dumont d'Urville and Amiral Charner took part in the Battle of Koh Chang on 17 January 1941.

The La Grandière was extensively modernised in 1944. Her anti-aircraft armament was replaced with 40 mm Bofors and 20 mm Oerlikon guns, and new anti-submarine armament of (4 depth charge throwers and 6 depth charge rails, with 66 charges) was installed. She also received two radars and a sonar.

Four ships survived the war and served during the Indochina War and in the Korean War.



Ship Namesake Builder Launched Fate
Bougainville Louis Antoine de Bougainville FC de la Gironde 25 April 1931[1] Sunk 9 November 1940[1]
Amiral Charner Léonard Charner AC Maritime de Sud Ouest 1 October 1932[1] Scuttled 10 March 1945[1]
Dumont d'Urville Jules Dumont d'Urville AC Maritime de Sud Ouest 21 March 1931[1] Broken up 26 March 1958[1]
D'Entrecasteaux Antoine Bruni d'Entrecasteaux AC de Provence 22 June 1931[4] Broken up 19 October 1948[4]
La Grandière (ex-Ville d'Ys)[1] Template:Interlanguage link AC de Provence 22 June 1939[4] Broken up 23 November 1959[4]
D'Iberville Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville AC Maritime de Sud Ouest 23 September 1934[4] Scuttled with the Vichy French fleet in Toulon, 27 November 1942[4]
Rigault de Genouilly Charles Rigault de Genouilly FC de la Gironde 18 September 1932[4] Sunk by HMS Pandora, 4 July 1940[4]
Savorgnan de Brazza Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza AC Maritime de Sud Ouest 18 June 1931[4] Broken up 20 March 1957[4]
Le Beautemps-Beaupré Charles-François Beautemps-Beaupré FC de la Gironde 24 June 1939[1] Scuttled 24 June 1940[1]
La Pérouse Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse FC de la Gironde incomplete[1] never completed[1]



  • Chesneau, Roger (1980). Conway's All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1922-1946. London: Conway Publishing. ISBN 0-85177-146-7. 
  • Le Masson, Henri (1969). The French Navy. Navies of the Second World War. 2. London: MacDonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd.. pp. 12–13. ISBN 9780356023847. 

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