Suffren class heavy cruisers (1927)

France – Suffren, Colbert, Foch, Dupleix

More armour, less speed

The Suffren class which succeeded the two Duquesne were ordered from their launch. They were started between 1926 and 1929, launched between 1927 and 1930 and entered into service between 1930 and 1932. In outline, they were closely derived from Duquesne, with slightly larger dimensions in length, width and draft with a significantly better protection (though still very poor). The belt, for example, increased to 65mm, which was still too weak to stop most projectiles and torpedoes. The compartmentalization was always very advanced, allowing the medium and light projectiles to lose their velocity before reaching the most sensitive parts.

Note: This is an introduction on the matter, a starter article. It will be extensively rewritten soon, with the carrer of each ship detailed, and posted on Facebook.

Their speed, with a slightly different machinery on three trees, was in slight loss, especially in front of the Italian buildings which always displayed exceptional performances. The class included Suffren, Colbert, Foch, and Dupleix. They varied slightly in size (like the Foch) and their anti-aircraft equipment, now composed of the new 88 mm hulls, was reinforced and varied slightly from one ship to another. Sufficient in 1935, it was no longer in 1940.

All the plans of Foch and Suffren class cruisers >

The Suffrens in operation:

The history of these four ships was relatively full. During the conflict, these vessels were active, including the Graf Spee hunt in the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.

In June 1940, the Suffren was in Alexandria. He was interned in the roadstead, partially disarmed, in the hands of French crews, but under British control. He waited there the course of the events until May 1943, before the Torch operation, he passed under the control of the FNFL (Free French Naval Forces). He was sent to New York for a major overhaul of superstructures and equipment, and complete anti-aircraft rearming to US standards.

Suffren was then sent to reinforce the Franco-British squadron of the Far East alongside the Richelieu, participating in all its sorties (mainly coastal support). He returned to metropolitan, and returned to Indochina shortly. Returned in 1962, it was placed in pre-reserve and served as a floating pontoon under the name Ocean in 1964 (to clear the name for new missile cruisers). It was not demolished until 1974, a good career for a ship built in the 1920s.

The Foch, Dupleix and Colbert, on their side, passed in the roadstead of Toulon most of their time of service, making only rare exits. They both scuttled each other in November 1942. The Dupleix however was refloated in July 1943 by the Italians who wanted to try to integrate it. Repair work, slowed down by the French workers, never ended and the ship was sunk by an American air raid during the landing in Provence (operation Anvil Dragoon).

Overview of the Suffren and Duquesne at Port 15 October 1934, photo from USN reconnaissance (cc)

Cruiser Suffren at Toulon 21 Sept. 1945 – Personal archive by André Marton (cc)


Displacement: 9,980 t. standard -12,780 t. Full Load
Dimensions: 194 m long (196 Foch), 19.3 m wide, 7.2 m draft.
Propulsion: 3 propellers, 3 Turbine turbines, 9 Guyot boilers of the Temple, 90,000 hp. Maximum speed 31 knots.
Armour: 65 mm belt, 25 mm anti-torpedo partitions, 25 bridge, 25 mm turrets, 28 mm bunker.
Armament: 8 pieces of 203 mm cal.55 (Model 1925), 8×88 mm DP, 8×37 mm AA (4×2), 12 ML of 13.2 mm AA (2×4), 2 Loire 130 seaplanes.
Crew: 750

The Colbert in 1939. The four Suffren took over the defects of the previous buildings in terms of protection…

HD Photo

Emile Bertin (1933)
Primauguet class cruisers (1923)

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