The breakthrough French cruiser
Named after a famous French naval engineer, Emile Bertin, this light cruiser of the new generation innovated in the same way that Algeria had marked a clear break for heavy cruisers. Basically, she was designed to support the Pluto (later renamed “La Tour d’Auvergne”) as a minelayer cruiser and heavy destroyers leaders of the like of Malin or Maille Breze class in the Atlantic.
*Cover: Official U.S. Navy photo NH 88990 from the Naval History and Heritage Command
Slightly built (she was even reinforced to allow firing in simultaneous side bursts), its hull was very studied to give it an advantage of speed and fuel economy. As such, a very good walker, he was also particularly fast, reaching 38-39 knots for testing (the rival Italian rivals of the Band Nere class on their side claimed 41-42 knots). He was especially the first to use triple turrets of 152 mm guns, in order to save armor and weight in general. In this way they managed to have 9 pieces. Bertin will serve as a test gallop for the famous next class, La Galissonnière. It was built at the Penhöet (Saint Nazaire) shipyards, launched in 1933 and completed in 1935.
Emile Bertin in operations:
In 1939, Bertin was transferred from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, then based in Toulon, still in his role as a flotilla leader. He secretly delivered the gold reserves of Poland to Lebanon. After a short remake, he left to patrol around the Canary Islands. Then in April 1940 he was back in Brest, where he was assigned to Group Z for Norway under Admiral Derrien. In Namsos he was attacked on April 19 by the Stukas of the Luftwaffe and had to return to Brest for repairs. Subsequently, he was sent with a gold stock from the Bank of France in Nova Scotia, Halifax, along with Jeanne d’Arc and Béarn.
The Bertin in 1944. Note his equipment revised to US standards and the standard camouflage of that time. U.S. Navy’s recognition slide. (cc)
Meanwhile the news of the capitulation arrived. Emile Bertin was then sent to Martinique and inactive, then partially disarmed in May 1942. In June 1943, he was officially handed over to the FNFL and joined the arsenal of Philadelphia to be rearmed and re-equipped to the standards of the US Navy. He was then sent to participate in the Italian campaign and landing in Provence. After 1945, he participated in the operations in Indochina, before being disarmed and sent to scrap in 1959.
Displacement: 5,880 t. standard – 8,840 t. Full Load
Dimensions: 177 m long, 16 m wide, 6.6 m draft.
Propulsion: 4 propellers, 4 Parsons turbines, 6 penhöet boilers, 102,000 hp. Maximum operational speed 34 knots.
Propulsion: 20 mm belt, 18 mm anti-torpedo partitions, bridge 20, 26 mm turrets, 26 mm blockhouse.
Armament: 9 pieces of 152 mm cal.55 (3×3 – 1930 model), 4×90 mm AA, 8x37mm AA (4×2), 8×13,2 mm AA (4×2), 2 Loire 130 seaplanes.
Emile Bertin in martinique, late 1942.