Armored cruiser Waldeck-Rousseau

The armored cruiser Waldeck-Rousseau belonged to the Edgar Quinet ship class, which consisted of 2 ships and was one of the last armored cruiser built in France.


Launch and design:

Already with the construction of the Ernest Renan armored cruiser, a significant increase in firepower in the armored cruiser sector was aimed at. The two ships of the Edgar Quinet class, however, should exceed this once again.

Special emphasis was placed on a uniform main armament with a total of 14 x 194 mm guns, whereby basically only the 164 mm guns of the predecessor model were replaced by guns with a larger caliber. The 47 mm guns, which were balanced with a higher number of 20 x 65 mm guns, were also omitted. The ships of the Edgar Quinet class were thus the most powerful armoured cruisers of the French Navy.

The ships were powered by three 4-cylinder triple expansion engines driven by 40 Belleville coal boilers in the Edgar Quinet and 42 Niclausse boilers in the Waldeck-Rousseau. The output amounted to 36.000 hp, which meant that a maximum speed of 23 knots could be achieved. In order to better protect the propulsion system against damage, the triple expansion motors were each housed in a separate protected area, and the boilers were installed in pairs in watertight compartments.

The armor on the ship's belt was 150 mm, which was reduced to 70 mm at the front and 40 mm at the rear. The ships had 2 armoured decks, the lower one 65 mm thick and the upper one 30 mm thick. The armor of the two twin turrets remained at 200 mm, the casemates at 194 mm only slightly less.

The ship was named after the French politician and 29th Prime Minister Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau (1846 - 1904).

The launch of the Waldeck-Rousseau then took place on 4 March 1908, the commissioning in August 1911.



Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau, namesake of the ship


Armored cruiser Waldeck-Rousseau




History of Waldeck-Rousseau:

After the test runs and the commissioning the Waldeck-Rousseau together with the sister ship Edgar Quinet belonged to the most powerful armoured cruisers France had built until then. However, the battle cruiser HMS Invincible had already been put into service in Great Britain 2 years before and thus made the class of the armoured cruiser superfluous.

In April 1912 the Waldeck-Rousseau was combined with the sister ship Edgar Quinet and the armoured cruiser Ernest Renan in the 1st Light Squadron. With this several manoeuvres and exercises in the Mediterranean were accomplished afterwards.




Use in war:

When the First World War broke out in Europe, the Waldeck-Rousseau was still in the Toulon shipyard because the damage caused by the storm off the coast of Golfe-Juan on 22 February still had to be repaired. These could only be completed on 5 September, so that Waldeck-Rousseau could not take part in the pursuit of the two German ships Goeben and Breslau in the Mediterranean, but only joined the French fleet when they were already blocking the coasts and ports of Austria-Hungary. Only on 17 October an attack of the submarine U-4 could be foiled by fire and on 4 November, when another submarine tried to torpedo the ship.

From 30 November to the beginning of 1916 the ship changed as a patrol between the Adriatic Sea and the eastern Mediterranean several times back and forth.

On January 8, 1916 the Waldeck-Rousseau participated together with the ships Ernest Renan, Edgar Quinet and Jules Ferry in the occupation of the Greek island Corfu. For this purpose, French mountain troops were brought ashore in the night from 10 to 11 January. Although the Greek officials protested against the occupation, they did not offer any resistance.

Until the end of the war, the Waldeck-Rousseau only provided security.




Post-war deployment:

After the war the Waldeck-Rousseau was moved to the Black Sea with a fresh crew at the beginning of 1919 to support the Allied intervention during the Russian civil war. Even though there was no contact between the crew and the locals, the crew began to mutiny on April 26, protesting against the bad conditions on board the ship and demanding the return to France. After 3 days the mutiny could be ended, but the captain of the ship was removed from his post and the ship was forbidden to sail to the other French ships in Constantinople, so it remained in the Black Sea.

After the situation on board the French ships had calmed down again in 1920, they were able to be fully deployed again. Thus the Waldeck-Rousseau, together with the British battleship Emperor of India, supported the evacuation of the Belarusian troops at Novorossiysk on 26 March 1920 by firing at the advancing Bolshevists and taking the soldiers on board. A little later, in 1920, a further evacuation of Belarusian troops was undertaken, as the Bolshevists advanced elsewhere.

In contrast to the other French warships, the Waldeck-Rousseau remained in the Black Sea. The last significant operation took place on 16 December 1922 when the French transport ship Vinh Long burned and the crew and soldiers had to be rescued.

After returning to France, the ship underwent a major overhaul to prepare it for service in the French colony in Asia. On 10 May 1929 the Waldeck-Rousseau left to replace the Jules Michelet as flagship in Asia. Only in May 1932 the ship itself was replaced by the Primauguet and returned to France.

After the ship had arrived in France it was taken out of service and allocated to the reserve.





On 14 June 1936 the Waldeck-Rousseau in the port of Brest was converted into a residential ship.

When the German Wehrmacht began its campaign in France during the Second World War and marched towards Brest, the Waldeck-Rousseau was sunk into the harbour on 18 June 1940 so that it would not fall into the hands of the Wehrmacht.

From 1941 to 1944 the ship was finally scrapped.




Ship data:





Type of ship:  

Armored cruiser


Edgar Quinet-Classe

Building yard:  

Arsenal de Lorient

Building costs:  



March 4th, 1908


August 1911


Sunk in Brest itself on 18 June 1940, scrapped from 1941 to 1944


158,9 metres


21,51 metres


Maximum 8,41 metres


Maximum 13.995 tons


859 - 892 men




three 4-cylinder triple expansion engines

42 Niclausse coal boilers


36.000 HP (27.000 kW)

Maximum speed:  

23 knots (43 kilometres per hour)




14 × 194 mm guns

20 × 65 mm guns

2 × 450 mm torpedo tubes


Belt: 150 mm
Gun turrets: 200 mm
Casemates: 194 mm
Command tower: 203 mm
Deck: 30 - 65 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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