Battleship Iéna

The battleship Iéna was one of the first French battleships, derived from the ships of the Charlemagne class and belonged to the few battleships that did not participate in the First World War.


Launch and design:

The construction of the Charlemagne class battleships began in 1894, but even before its completion it became clear that the services were inadequate. The Conseil des travaux (Board of Construction), which was responsible for the construction of the battleships, then ordered a design based on the Charlemagne class ships, but with the aim of avoiding the weaknesses.

The responsible chief designer Thibaudier finally adopted the basic concept of the ships, then increased the number of medium-heavy guns and also had the armor of the ship strengthened. The additional 700 tons were to be distributed over the ship to compensate for the instability of the Charlemagne class.

The presented ship finally had a length of 122,35 metres, a width of 20,83 metres and a draught of maximum 8,45 metres. The additional armouring increased the weight to 12.105 tons.

The main armament remained with 4 x 305 mm guns, each housed in two double turrets at the stern and at the bow of the ship. The middle artillery consisted of 8 x 164 mm and 8 x 100 mm guns, each housed in individual turrets. In addition, 16 x 47 mm guns and 4 x 450 mm torpedo tubes were mounted.

The reinforced armour consisted entirely of Harvey steel and was up to 320 mm thick on the ship's belt. The deck had 80 mm thick armour, the main guns up to 318 mm and the turrets of the middle artillery up to 200 mm.

Three vertical triple expansion steam engines, each driving one screw, served as the drive. The required output of 16.500 hp was provided by 20 Belleville water-tube boilers, enabling the ship to reach a maximum speed of up to 18,11 knots.

The Iéna was launched on 1 September 1898 and commissioned on 14 April 1902.



Battleship Iéna

Battleship Iéna




History of Iéna:

After being put into service and the test runs, the Iéna was assigned to the second squadron of the Mediterranean Division on 14 April 1902. The voyage to the new home port of Toulon began on 19 April, but there were problems with the steering gear already on the way there, so that the ship had to go to the dock for repair as soon as it arrived at the port.

The ship then took part in the annual manoeuvres and round trips to ports in southern France and North Africa.

The Iéna's only significant deployment took place in April 1906, when the Vesuvius volcano erupted in Italy near Naples and ships from Great Britain, France, Austria-Hungary and the German Empire supported and evacuated the population.

On 4 March 1907, the ship had to enter Toulon for maintenance and repair. On 12 March there were several serious explosions in the ship during the night, damaging not only the ship itself, but also the dry dock and its surroundings. Since the ship was in a dry dock, the area could not be flooded to limit the destruction. Although the adjacent battleship Patrie fired a grenade at the dry dock gate, it only bounced off. Only later was it possible to flood the dock. In the later investigation it turned out that the propellants of the grenades had ignited themselves and thus triggered the explosions. A similar accident occurred in 1911 on the battleship Liberté. The accident cost 120 lives, including 2 civilians killed by flying fragments.



Battleship Iéna in March 1907





During the subsequent investigation of the damage, it was found that the entire engine plant had been destroyed and that the hull in this area had also been completely torn open. According to initial estimates, the cost of a repair would have been around 7 million francs and the period would have been 2 years. The French Ministry of the Navy therefore decided not to repair the ship, as the costs would be too high and the ship was already considered obsolete.

In order to still be able to use it, all still functioning and important facilities were removed, the ship was towed to Île des Porquerolles and used there as a target ship.

After several attempts with new, armor-piercing ammunition the ship was about to sink. It was therefore towed into deeper waters where it sank on 2 December 1909.

In 1912 the rights were sold for scrapping and the wreck was gradually salvaged and scrapped until 1927.




Ship data:





Type of ship:  



Single ship

Building yard:  

Brest Arsenal

Building costs:  



September 1st, 1898


April 14th, 1902


On 12 March 1907 seriously damaged by explosions in the dry dock, then used as a target ship until 2 December 1909


122,35 meters


20,83 meters


Max. 8,45 meters


Max. 12.105 tons


701 men


20 Belleville water tube boiler

3 vertical triple expansion machines


16.500 HP (12.300 kW)

Maximum speed:  

18 knots (33 kilometres per hour)




4 × 305 mm guns

8 × 164 mm guns

8 × 100 mm guns

16 × 47 mm guns

4 × 450 mm torpedo tubes


Belt: up to 320 mm
Deck: up to 80 mm
Main guns: 318 mm
Towers: 200 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.

Click here!



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.

This is the most comprehensive account of these ships published in English or French, and is destined be the standard reference for many years to come.

Click here!



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.

Click here!



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.

Click here!






This post is also available in: Deutsch (German) Français (French) Italiano (Italian) 简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified)) Русский (Russian) Español (Spanish) العربية (Arabic)

Comments are closed.

error: Content is protected !!