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French battleship Jean Bart (1911)
Jean Bart (1911).jpg
Jean Bart in 1914
Career (France)
Name: Jean Bart
Namesake: Jean Bart
Awarded: 11 August 1910
Builder: Arsenal de Brest, Brest
Laid down: 15 November 1910
Launched: 23 September 1911
Completed: 19 November 1913
Renamed: Océan 1936
Reclassified: disarmed and became a school ship in 1936
Captured: 27 November 1942 by Germany
28 August 1944 by the Allies
Fate: Scrapped beginning 14 December 1945
General characteristics
Class & type: Courbet-class battleship
Displacement: 23,475 tonnes (23,104 long tons) (standard)
25,579 tonnes (25,175 long tons) (full load)
Length: 166 m (544 ft 7 in)
Beam: 27 m (88 ft 7 in)
Draught: 9.04 m (29 ft 8 in) at normal load
Installed power: 28,000 shp (20,880 kW)
Propulsion: 4-shaft Parsons steam turbines, 24 boilers
Speed: 21 knots (24 mph; 39 km/h) (trials)
Endurance: 4,200 nmi (7,780 km) at 10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h)
Complement: 1115–1187

6 × 2 - 305 mm (12 in) Mle 1910 guns
22 x 1 - 138 mm (5.4 in) Mle 1910 guns
4 × 1 - 47-millimetre (1.9 in) guns

4 × 450-millimetre (17.7 in) torpedo tubes
Armour: Waterline belt: 180–270 mm (7.1–10.6 in)
Deck: 30–70 mm (1.2–2.8 in)
Turrets: 290–250 mm (11.4–9.8 in)
Barbettes: 280 mm (11 in)
Conning tower: 300 mm (11.8 in)

Jean Bart was the second ship of the Courbet-class battleships, the first dreadnoughts built for the French Navy. She was completed before World War I as part of the 1910 naval building programme. She spent the war in the Mediterranean and helped to sink the Austro-Hungarian protected cruiser Zenta on 16 August 1914. She spent most of the rest of 1914 providing gunfire support for the Montenegrin Army until she was torpedoed by the submarine U-12 on 21 December.[1] Even with three compartments flooded, she was able to steam to Malta on her own for repairs that required three and a half months. Upon her return she spent the remainder of the war participating in the Otranto Barrage, in the Adriatic.

After the end of World War I she and her sister ship France were sent to the Black Sea to support Allied troops in the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War. Jean Bart's crew mutinied out of sympathy for the Bolsheviks, but the mutiny was put down and she returned to the Mediterranean in 1920. She was partially modernized twice during the 1920s, but was deemed in too poor condition to be refitted again in the 1930s. Therefore she was renamed Océan, disarmed and hulked in 1936 and became a harbour training ship in Toulon. The Germans captured her intact when they occupied Toulon in 1942 and used her for testing large shaped charge warheads. She was sunk by Allied bombing in 1944, but was raised and scrapped in 1945.


Right elevation and deck plan as depicted in Brassey's Naval Annual 1912

Jean Bart was 166 metres (544 ft 7 in) long overall. She had a beam of 27 metres (88 ft 7 in) and at full load a draft of 9.04 metres (29 ft 8 in) at the bow. She displaced 23,475 tonnes (23,100 long tons) at standard load and 25,579 tonnes (25,180 long tons) at full load.[2] She proved to be rather wet in service as she was bow-heavy because of her superimposed turrets forward.[1]

Jean Bart had four propellers powered by four Parsons direct-drive steam turbines, rated at 28,000 shaft horsepower (20,880 kW); twenty-four Belleville water-tube boilers provided steam for her turbines. These boilers were coal-burning with auxiliary oil sprayers.[3] She had a designed speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph).[2] She carried up to 2,700 long tons (2,700 t) of coal and 906 long tons (921 t) of oil and could steam for 4,200 nautical miles (7,800 km) at a speed of 10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h).[1]

Jean Bart's main armament consisted of twelve 305-millimetre (12 in) Mle 1910 45-calibre guns mounted in six twin gun turrets, with two turrets superimposed fore and aft, and one on each flank of the ship. For anti-torpedo boat defence she carried twenty-two 138-millimetre (5.4 in) Mle 1910 guns, which were mounted in casemates. Four 47-millimetre (1.9 in) Modèle 1902 Hotchkiss guns were fitted, two on each beam. She was also armed with four 450-millimetre (18 in) submerged Modèle 1909 torpedo tubes with twelve torpedoes.[3]

Jean Bart's waterline armoured belt extended well below the waterline as the French were concerned about protection from underwater hits. Her main armour was also thinner than that of her British or German counterparts, but covered more area. It was 270 millimetres (10.6 in) thick between the fore and aft turrets and tapered to 180 mm (7.1 in) towards the bow and stern. It extended 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in) below the normal waterline. Above the main belt was another belt, 180 mm thick, that covered the sides, and the secondary armament, up to the forecastle deck, 4.5 metres (14 ft 9 in) deep, between the fore and aft turrets. The conning tower had armour 300 mm (11.8 in) thick. The main gun turrets had 290 millimetres (11.4 in) of armour on their faces, 250 millimetres (9.8 in) on their sides and roofs 100 millimetres (3.9 in) thick. Their barbettes had 280 millimetres (11.0 in) of armour. There was no anti-torpedo bulkhead although there was a longitudinal bulkhead abreast the machinery spaces that was used either as a coal bunker or left as a void.[4]


Jean Bart was built by the Arsenal de Brest at Brest. Her keel was laid down on 15 October 1910 and was launched on 22 September 1911. She was completed on 19 November 1913 and finished her trials before World War I began the following year.[2] Jean Bart escorted France, which was carrying the President of the French Republic, Raymond Poincaré, on a state visit to Saint Petersburg, Russia in July 1914.[5] They were returning from Russia when World War I began, but made it to France without encountering German ships.

File:Jean Bart Malta.jpg

Torpedo hit at the bow

Shortly after the start of the war, the commander of the Allied naval forces in the Mediterranean decided to sweep the Adriatic, to surprise the Austrian vessels enforcing a blockade of Montenegro. The Anglo-French force, which included Jean Bart, succeeded in cutting off and sinking the Austro-Hungarian protected cruiser Zenta in an engagement off Antivari on 16 August 1914, although her accompanying destroyer managed to escape.[6] Jean Bart spent most of the rest of 1914 providing gunfire support for the Montenegrin Army until she was torpedoed by the submarine U-12 off Sazan Island on 21 December. The one torpedo struck her in the wine store just before the forward magazine.[1] She was able to steam to Malta on her own for repairs that required three and a half months, but this attack forced the battleships to fall back to either Malta or Bizerte. After the French occupied the neutral Greek island of Corfu in 1916 the ships moved forward to Corfu and Argostoli, but their activities were very limited as many of their crews were used to man anti-submarine ships.[7] In 1918, she served off Greece. Before the end of the war she was fitted with seven 75-millimetre (3 in) Mle 1897 anti-aircraft (AA) guns in single mounts.[8] These guns were adaptations of the famous French Mle 97 75 mm field gun.[9]

Jean Bart in 1913

In April 1919, while Jean Bart was helping to defend Sevastopol from the advancing Bolsheviks, her crew mutinied, along with that of the France, but the mutiny collapsed when Vice-Admiral Jean-Françoise-Charles Amet agreed to meet the mutineers' main demand to take the ships home. Three crewmen were sentenced to prison terms upon her return, although the sentences were commuted in 1922 as part of a bargain between Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré and the parties of the Left.[10] The ship returned to Toulon in 1920 and received the first of her two refits between 12 October 1923 and 29 January 1925. This included replacing one set of boilers with oil-fired boilers, trunking together her two forward funnels, increasing the maximum elevation of the main armament from 12° to 23°, removal of her bow armour to make her more seaworthy, the installation of a fire-control director, with a 4.57 metres (15.0 ft) rangefinder, atop the new tripod foremast, and the replacement of her Mle 1897 AA guns with four Mle 1918 guns and 24 8-millimetre (0.31 in) machine guns.[11]

Jean Bart was refitted again between 7 August 1929 and 29 September 1931. This was much more extensive than her earlier refit as another set of boilers was converted to oil-firing, her direct-drive cruising turbines were replaced by geared turbines and her fire-control systems were comprehensively upgraded. A large cruiser-type fire-control director was added atop the foremast with a 4.57-m coincidence rangefinder and a 3-metre (9 ft 10 in) stereo rangefinder. The rangefinder above the conning tower was replaced by a duplex unit carrying two 4.57-m rangefinders and another 4.57-m rangefinder was added in an armoured hood next to the main mast. Two directors for the secondary guns were added on the navigation bridge, each with a 2-metre (6 ft 7 in) coincidence rangefinder. A 8.2 metres (26 ft 11 in) rangefinder was added to the roof of 'B' turret, the second one from the bow. Her Mle 1897 AA guns were exchanged for Mle 1918 guns and they were provided with three 1.5-metre (4 ft 11 in) rangefinders, one on top of the duplex unit on the conning tower, one on 'B' turret and one in the aft superstructure. Her condition was poor enough that she was not thought to be worth the expense of a third refit like those her sisters were given.[11] She was hulked, disarmed and became a harbour training ship in 1936.[3][11] She was renamed Océan that year to free her name for use by the new Richelieu-class battleship Jean Bart then being constructed.[12]

The new Océan was captured intact by the Germans on 27 November 1942, the day the French Fleet was scuttled. The Germans used her for experiments with very large shaped charge warheads as delivered by the Mistel composite aircraft. She was sunk by Allied aircraft in 1944[3] and later raised for scrapping beginning on 14 December 1945.[13]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Gardiner & Gray, p. 197
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dumas, p. 223
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Whitley, p. 36
  4. Whitley, p. 35
  5. Scheer, Reinhard. "Germany's High Seas Fleet in the World War". Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  6. Sieche, Erwin. "French Naval Operations, Engagements and Ship Losses in the Adriatic in World War One". Retrieved 22 November 2009. 
  7. Whitley, p. 38
  8. Dumas, p. 226
  9. Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War II. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. p. 306. ISBN 0-87021-459-4. 
  10. Masson, Philippe (2003). "The French Naval Mutinies, 1919". In Bell, Christopher M. and Elleman, Bruce A.. Naval Mutinies of the Twentieth Century: An International Perspective. Cass Series: Naval Policy and History. 19. London: Frank Cass. pp. 106–122. ISBN 0-7146-5456-6. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Dumas, p. 229
  12. Le Masson, Henri (1969). The French Navy 1. Navies of the Second World War. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. p. 65. 
  13. Dumas, p. 231


  • Dumas, Robert (1985). "The French Dreadnoughts: The 23,500 ton Courbet Class". In John Roberts. Warship. IX. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 154–164, 223–231. ISBN 0-87021-984-7. OCLC 26058427. 
  • Dumas, Robert; Guiglini, Jean (1980). Les cuirassés français de 23,500 tonnes. Grenoble, France: Editions de 4 Seigneurs. OCLC 7836734. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger, eds (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922–1946. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-913-8. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1922. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-907-3. 
  • Jordan, John; Dumas, Robert (2009). French Battleships 1922–1956. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-416-8. 
  • Whitley, M. J. (1998). Battleships of World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-184-X. 

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