Armored cruiser Dupuy de Lôme

The armoured cruiser Dupuy de Lôme was built at the end of the 19th century for the French navy and was one of the first armoured cruisers in the world to attack mainly enemy merchant ships.


Launch and design:

After the lost Franco-Prussian War, the navy was rebuilt, structured and aligned alongside the French army. Part of the new strategy included the use of fast armoured cruisers against the merchant ships of an enemy nation in order to disrupt or bring to a standstill its economy and supplies.

Especially for this purpose, the French naval architect Henri Dupuy de Lôme began in the early 1980s with the planning and the concept of a suitable armoured cruiser, which should not only meet the tasks set by a strong armoring and armament, but also be at least equal to other armoured cruisers of Great Britain and the German Empire.

The concept was presented in the mid-80s. It envisaged an armoured cruiser with a length of 114 metres, a width of 15,7 metres and a displacement of a maximum of 6.682 tonnes. A special feature of the ship was the unarmoured spur-like ram on the bow, which was no longer used on other ships at that time. Also all guns were housed in turrets and no longer in casemates.

The main armament consisted of 2 guns of the caliber 194 mm which were accommodated in a single turret. As secondary armament 6 x 164 mm guns were used, which were accommodated in a single turret along the sides of the ship. Furthermore 10 x 47 mm, 4 x 37 mm guns and 4 x 450 mm torpedo tubes were used.

The armor along the belt of the ship was 100 mm, the deck had an armor of 30 mm. The command turret was the heaviest armoured with a thickness of 125 mm, the turrets with 100 mm.

It was powered by three triple expanding steam engines driven by 11 Amirauté firetube boilers with an output of 14.000 HP. This gave the ship a top speed of up to 20 knots.

The ship was named after its designer Henri Dupuy de Lôme.

The launch of the Dupuy de Lôme took place on 27 October 1890, the commissioning on 15 May 1895.



Armored cruiser Dupuy de Lôme


Henri Dupuy de Lôme, namesake of the ship




History of Dupuy de Lôme:

On 27 October 1890, the Dupuy de Lôme was launched, but shortly afterwards the first defects appeared on the ship. Some of the forged steel armoured plates proved to be defective, as the production of such plates was still more or less under development and the technology was not yet exhausted. Some plates were replaced, but most remained on the ship.

From 1 April 1892 the first test runs were carried out. An accident occurred on 20 June when one of the boiler tubes burst and 16 crew members were seriously injured. The subsequent technical modifications delayed the delivery of the ship by one year.

In October 1893 the test runs were resumed. A 24-hour performance test also showed that the installed boilers did not deliver the desired output of 14.000 HP, but only 10.180 HP. In addition, the boilers worked unreliably. The manufacturer then agreed to replace the boilers, which delayed delivery by another year.

From 15 November 1894, after the replacement of the boilers, the final tests were carried out. The final completion and delivery to the French Navy took place on 15 May 1895.

After the takeover, the Dupuy de Lôme was assigned to the Atlantic fleet. Together with the cruiser Surcouf, the ship represented France in June at the opening of the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal in the German Empire.

In the following years the ship took over mainly representative tasks. For example, she travelled to Spain, accompanied the imperial yacht of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II or represented France at the funeral of Queen Victoria.

From 1902 an extensive reconstruction began in Brest. At first the boilers were replaced by 20 new Guyot-du-Temple water-tube boilers, which also resulted in extensive conversions of the boiler rooms. The rear heavy mast was also replaced by a lighter version and some older guns were replaced. After completion of the conversion work, the ship was allocated to the reserve for the time being.

In September 1908 the ship was reactivated to be used in Morocco. However, shortly after the start of the operation it became apparent that many of the armor plates began to rust. Furthermore, in 1909 the entire water distribution system had to be dismantled and cleaned. At the end of 1909 it was again allocated to the reserve, as further modernisation was considered uneconomical.

It was taken out of service on 20 March 1910 and removed from the list of warships on 20 February 1911.



Armored cruiser Dupuy de Lôme



After its removal from the list, Peru became interested in the ship after Ecuador announced in 1910 that it would buy the small Italian cruiser Umbria. After several negotiations, Peru and France agreed on a purchase price of 3 million francs to be paid in 3 installments. In addition Peru should take over the costs of the reparation in order to make the ship operational again. After the payment of the first instalment and the costs of the reparation, the Dupuy de Lôme was officially handed over to the Peruvian navy on 6 March 1912 and renamed Commandante Aguirre.

After the purchase between Ecuador and Italy was cancelled and the Umbria was bought by Haiti instead, Peru also lost interest in its new armored cruiser and stopped paying the last installment, leaving France with the ship again in October 1914.



Armored cruiser Dupuy de Lôme




Use in war:

After the outbreak of the First World War, the French Ministry of the Navy considered bringing the Dupuy de Lôme back from Peru and making it operational again. However, this proposal was rejected, because the costs for a modernization would have been too high on the one hand, on the other hand the ship was already too old to be used effectively against other warships.

Thus the Dupuy de Lôme remained for the time being in Peru and was fetched only on 17 January 1917 again to France back.




Post-war deployment:

Shortly before the end of the war, the Dupuy de Lôme was sold in October 1918 to the Belgian company Lloyd Royal Belge, who had the ship converted into a freighter. The two outboard motors, the associated boilers and propeller shafts as well as the two front funnels were removed. The armour plates were also removed, as long as they did not impair the stability of the ship. After the conversion, the ship was renamed Péruvier.

On 20 January 1920 the first voyage from Cardiff to Rio de Janeiro took place with 5,000 tons of coal on board. There were already problems with the engines shortly after the departure, so that the ship had to lie in the shipyard in Falmouth until 14 February. On the continuation of the voyage the propulsion failed again in the middle of the Atlantic and the ship had to be towed by a Spanish merchant ship to Las Palmas. From there it had to be towed further to Pernambuco.

On arrival, it was discovered that the coal in hold 3 had ignited itself. The fire could only be extinguished on 19 June 1920 and the ship had to remain in port until 14 October.





From Pernambuco the Péruvier was towed to Antwerp and lay there in the harbour until it was decided to sell the ship.

On 4 March 1923 the ship was finally sold and scrapped.




Ship data:


Dupuy de Lôme



Type of ship:  

Armored cruiser


Single ship

Building yard:  


Building costs:  



October 27th, 1890


May 15th, 1895


Sold on 4 March 1923 and then scrapped


114 meters


15,7 meters


Max. 7,07 meters


Max. 6.682 tons


521 men


11 Amirauté fire tube boilers

From 1902:

20 new Guyot-du-Temple water tube boilers


14.000 HP

Maximum speed:  

20 knots (37 kilometres per hour)




2 × 194 mm guns

6 × 164 mm guns

4 × 65 mm guns

10 × 47 mm guns

4 × 37 mm guns

2 × 450 mm torpedo tubes


Belt: 100 mm
Deck: 30 mm
Gun turrets: 100 mm
Command bridge: 125 mm






You can find the right literature here:


French Battleships 1914–45 (New Vanguard)

French Battleships 1914–45 (New Vanguard) Paperback – January 22, 2019

This authoritative study examines the French Navy's last battleships, using detailed color plates and historical photographs, taking them from their inception before World War I, through their service in World War II including the scuttling of the French fleet at Toulon in 1943, and the service of Richelieu in the war against Japan.

On September 1, 1910, France became the last great naval power to lay down a dreadnought battleship, the Courbet. The ensuing Courbet and Bretagne-class dreadnoughts had a relatively quiet World War I, spending most of it at anchor off the entrance to the Adriatic, keeping watch over the Austro-Hungarian fleet. The constraints of the Washington Naval Treaty prevented new battleships being built until the 1930s, with the innovative Dunkerque-class and excellent Richelieu-class of battleships designed to counter new German designs.

After the fall of France in 1940, the dreadnoughts and fast battleships of the Marine Nationale had the unique experience of firing against German, Italian, British, and American targets during the war.

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French Battleships of World War One

French Battleships of World War One Hardcover – June 15, 2017

When war broke out in August 1914 France had only two dreadnoughts in service, with a second pair running trials. The main body of the elite Armée Navale was made up of the eleven battleships of the Patrie and Danton classes, both of which were intermediate designs with two main gun calibers. Older ships included survivors of the notorious Flotte d'echantillons ('fleet of samples') of the 1890 program and their successors designed during the 1890s.

This book traces the development of French battleships from 1890 to 1922, and also covers the extensive modifications made to the survivors during the interwar period. It is liberally illustrated throughout with line drawings and labelled schematics, plus photographs from the extensive Caresse collection, many of which are previously unpublished.

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French Armoured Cruisers 1887–1932

French Armoured Cruisers 1887–1932 Hardcover – November 1, 2019

Of all the threats faced by the Royal Navy during the first years of the twentieth century, the one which stood out was the risk to Britain's sea lines of communication posed by France's armored cruisers. Fast, well-armed, and well-protected, these ships could have evaded any attempted blockade of the French ports and, supported by a worldwide network of overseas bases, could potentially have caused havoc on the trade routes.

The primary focus of the book is on the technical characteristics of the ships. Detailed and labeled drawings based on the official plans are provided by John Jordan, and each individual class of ship is illustrated by photographs from the extensive personal collection of Philippe Caresse. The technical section is followed by a history in two parts, covering the Great War (1914-18) and the postwar years, during which the surviving ships saw extensive deployment as "station" cruisers overseas and as training ships. This is the most comprehensive account published in English or in French and is destined to be the standard reference for many years to come.

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To Crown the Waves: The Great Navies of the First World War

To Crown the Waves: The Great Navies of the First World War Hardcover – July 15, 2013

The only comparative analysis available of the great navies of World War I--each chapter is written by a recognzed expert fluent in the subject language. The work studies the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom (John Roberts), the German Kaiserliche Marine (Dr. Peter Schenk with Axel Niestlé and Dieter Thomaier) the United States Navy (Trent Hone), the French Marine Nationale (Jean Moulin), the Italian Regia Marina (Enrico Cernuschi and Vincent P. O'Hara) the Austro-Hungarian Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine (Zvonimir Freivogel), and the Imperial Russian Navy (Stephen McLaughlin) to demonstrate why the war was won, not in the trenches, but upon the waves. It explains why these seven fleets fought the way they did and why the war at sea did not develop as the admiralties and politicians of 1914 expected.

After discussing each navy's goals and circumstances and how their individual characteristics impacted the way they fought, the authors deliver a side-by-side analysis of the conflict's fleets, with each chapter covering a single navy. Parallel chapter structures assure consistent coverage of each fleet--history, training, organization, doctrine, materiel, and operations--and allow readers to easily compare information among the various navies. The book clearly demonstrates how the naval war was a collision of 19th century concepts with 20th century weapons that fostered unprecedented development within each navy and sparked the evolution of the submarine and aircraft carrier. The work is free from the national bias that infects so many other books on World War I navies. As they pioneer new ways of viewing the conflict, the authors provide insights and material that would otherwise require a massive library and mastery of multiple languages. Such a study has special relevance today as 20th-century navies struggle to adapt to 21st-century technologies.

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