Battleship Brennus

The battleship Brennus was the first battleship built in France at the end of the 19th century, which formed the basis for later battleships through many technical innovations.


Launch and design:

After the lost Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, France began to rebuild and structure its army. Shortly after the war the planning for the army began, only a few years later the French navy began to modernize and to build new ships.

During this process the plans for several early battleships were developed. Up to this time France had no experience in building such ships, but the technical development in Great Britain and the German Empire forced the Navy to build such ships as well.

Based on the experience of the Marceau class, the construction of the two battleships Brennus and Charles Martel began in 1884. However, these were abandoned by Admiral Théophile Aube, since the technical development already brought many innovations, which were to be introduced into the new ships. For this purpose, the construction plans were revised and adapted.

In 1888 the contract for the construction of the new Brennus was finally awarded.

The ship had a total length of 110,29 metres, a width of 20,4 metres and a maximum displacement of 11.190 tonnes. Already during the construction it turned out that the superstructure of the ship would later become too heavy and thus the draught would be considerably greater than planned. For this reason, parts of the deck had to be removed during the construction phase and the originally planned main mast had to be replaced with a much lighter version in order to save weight.

Two vertical triple expansion machines, each driving one screw, served as the drive. The power required for this was supplied by 32 Belleville water tube boilers with an output of 13.900 hp. The maximum speed was to be 17,5 to 18 knots.

The armor of the ship consisted of steel and composite armor and had a thickness of up to 460 mm on the ship's belt, which explains the high weight.

As armament, 3 42 Modèle 1887 cannons with a calibre of 340 mm were selected, with 2 pipes placed in a twin turret at the bow and in a single turret at the stern. In addition, 10 x 164 mm guns, 4 x 65 mm guns, 14 x 3 pounders, 8 x 1 pounders as well as 4 surface torpedo tubes were installed.

The launch of the Brennus took place on 17 October 1891, the commissioning on 16 December 1896.



Drawing of the Brennus


Battleship Brennus


Admirals and officers aboard the Brennus




History of the Brennus:

After the commissioning and the test runs the Brennus was used as flagship of the Mediterranean fleet.

At the end of 1897 the Brennus took part in an exercise to test a new fire control system and procedure during shooting. During the exercise, the Brennus, as well as the Neptune and Marceau, achieved an accuracy of 26% over a range of 3 to 4 kilometres. This procedure was then introduced as a standard by the Naval Ministry.

In 1900, several manoeuvres were carried out by the French Navy. The Brennus collided with the destroyer Framée on 10 August. It was so badly damaged that the ship sank within a short time. Only 14 of the 50 crew members could be rescued.

Due to the rapid technical development at the beginning of the century in the field of shipbuilding, the Brennus was obsolete only a few years after its commissioning. Thus the ship was assigned to the reserve together with the battleships Charles Martel, Carnot and Hoche as well as the armoured cruisers Pothuau, Amiral Charner and Bruix.

In this squadron, the ships took part in manoeuvres every year, with the Brennus serving as the flagship every year.

The ship took over this task until the outbreak of the First World War.



Battleship Brennus


Battleship Brennus




Use in war:

When World War I broke out in Europe, the Brennus remained in the reserve squadron of the Mediterranean fleet. Due to her age and technical backwardness, the ship was no longer reactivated there, but remained in reserve throughout the war.





After the First World War the ship was removed from the register of warships in 1919, sold in 1922 and then scrapped.




Ship data:





Type of ship:  



Single ship

Building yard:  


Building costs:  



October 17th, 1891


December 16th, 1896


1922 sold and scrapped


110,29 meters


20,4 meters


Max. 8,28 meters


Max. 11.190 tons


673 men


32 Belleville water tube boiler

2 Vertical triple expansion machines


13.900 HP (10.400 kW)

Maximum speed:  

18 knots (33 kilometres per hour)




3 × 340 mm guns

10 × 164 mm guns

4 × 65 mm guns

14 × 47 mm guns

8 × 37 mm guns

4 × 460 mm Torpedo tubes


Belt: 460 mm
Deck: 60 mm
Bridge: 150 mm
Towers: 460 mm






This post is also available in: deDeutsch (German) frFrançais (French) itItaliano (Italian) zh-hans简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified)) ruРусский (Russian)

Comments are closed.

error: Content is protected !!