Battleship Lorraine

The battleship Lorraine was the third and last ship of the Bretagne class, which consisted of three dreadnought battleships and was completed during the First World War.


Launch and design:

After building the Courbet class battleships, the French Navy decided to build more but more heavily armed dreadnought battleships to modernize and expand the navy. The calibres of the main guns were no longer the 30.5 cm guns already used, but 34 cm guns to be able to draw level with the new battleships Great Britain and the German Empire.

For the construction of the ships, however, the dimensions were tied to the size of the docks of the French shipyards. So the dimensions of the ships should be the same as those of the Courbet class and thus a length of 166 meters and a width of 27 meters should amount to. In order to be able to carry the new, larger and thus heavier guns, they had to be moved closer to the bow and stern of the ships, which ensured stability but reduced seaworthiness. A total of 10 Canon de 34 cm Model 1912 guns were used in 5 twin turrets. Two of the turrets were at the front and two at the back of the ship, the last turret was located in the middle of the ship and should be able to cover both port and starboard. As middle artillery 22 x 138 mm cannons were used, which were accommodated in single towers along the hull. On each side 2 x 450 mm torpedo tubes were used for the attack and it was possible to carry up to 28 naval mines and to lay them as a barrier.

Similar to the Courbet class ships, the waterline belt was heavily armoured to protect the ship against attacks by submarines and their torpedoes, but the Brittany class armour was only up to 250 mm thick, the Courbet class up to 270 mm. The turrets of the main guns were protected by 300 mm thick armour plates, the middle artillery by 160 mm thick plates.

The construction of the Lorraine began after the order on 15 July 1912, the launch on 30 September 1913 and the commissioning on 10 March 1916.



Drawing of the Bretagne Class




Use in war:

After being put into service and the subsequent test runs, the battleship Lorraine was officially handed over to the fleet on 27 July 1916 and assigned to the 1st fighter squadron, whereby all three ships of the Bretagne class were combined in one squadron.

By the time the ship was introduced, Italy had already joined the Allies in the war against Austria-Hungary and had taken over most of the security tasks off the coast of Austria-Hungary, so that the French fleet patrolled only the southern part of the Mediterranean Sea.

After the port of Argostoli on the Greek island of Kefalonia could already be used from 27 April 1916, the Greek island of Corfu was added at the beginning of 1917 as a base for the French warships. However, already from 1917 the lack of coal became apparent, so that the battleships only rarely left the port, the sister ships Bretagne and Provence remained even the whole year in the port.

In 1918, the shortage of coal continued to make itself felt, so that the ships remained in the port. However, this time was used to modernize the battleships, especially for the exchange of small guns.

After the armistice in Europe and the surrender of Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and the German Empire, the battleship Lorraine returned to its home port of Toulon.



The Provence, one of the Lorraine's sister ships




Post-war deployment:

After the war, the Lorraine took over surveillance tasks in the port of Cattaro, where the transfer of the warships of the former Austro-Hungarian navy was carried out. In addition, the ship accompanied returning warships and naval personnel. These tasks lasted from January to March 1919.

Subsequently, the Lorraine, together with its sister ship Provence, was to be sent to the other French warships in the Black Sea to support the Allied troops in the Russian Civil War. However, as there were some mutinies on the ships on the ground at that time, the French Navy decided against the deployment. Therefore the two ships were sent to Constantinople in October where they formed the core of the newly erected eastern Mediterranean squadron until it was merged with the western squadron in July 1921.

The first modernisation of the ship took place from 10 November 1921 to 4 December 1922, after which the ship had to be allocated to the reserve as the financial resources of the French navy had to be limited. It was not until 1923 that it was reactivated and moved to the Mediterranean.

The second modernisation took place from 15 November 1924 to 4 August 1926 and the third from 17 September 1929 to 6 June 1931. Older guns were replaced, a new fire control system and new rangefinders were installed. The range of the main guns was also increased and the old coal boilers were replaced with new oil boilers.

From 18 September 1934 to 20 September 1935 the fourth and last modernisation took place. A middle gun turret was removed and instead a catapult for airplanes was installed. In addition, a hangar with space for 3 aircraft was erected.

In 1936 the ship was transferred to the French Atlantic squadron, where it remained until the Second World War.




Use in the Second World War:

After the outbreak of the Second World War, the Lorraine was moved from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea in Casablanca, from where the ship, together with several destroyers and cruisers, hunted German ships. During this period, the Lorraine also transferred gold bars from the French bank to Bermuda in order to protect it from the Germans.

On January 1, 1940, the Lorraine was placed under the 2nd battleship division of the 1st squadron and overhauled in dry dock. Afterwards the ship with her sister ships was transferred to Alexandria. After Italy declared war on France on 10 June 1940, the Lorraine was the only battleship of the Brittany class in the eastern Mediterranean, the two sister ships operating in the western Mediterranean. With some British warships the ship bombarded some Italian coastal positions in the night from 20th to 21st June.

Shortly after France's capitulation, the British operation began to take over, intercept or sink the remaining French warships so that they could not be subordinated to the German or Italian navy and used against Great Britain. In Alexandria the ships at anchor were interned and disarmed. In addition to the Lorraine, this also included several destroyers and cruisers.

In December 1942 the crew of the Lorraine decided to join the Free French in their fight against Germany. Thus the Lorraine was again armed and reactivated and put back into service on 3 July 1943.

From Alexandria the ship ran to Dakar, where it arrived on 12 October 1943. There it first served as a training ship, later it was converted to Oran. Thereby the airplane catapult was removed and over 30 anti-aircraft cannons were set up. Also a radar plant was installed. The conversion served to prepare the operation Dragoon, the landing of allied troops in the south of France, which was planned for August 1944.

On 15 August 1944 the operation began and the Lorraine, together with the American battleship USS Nevada, fired at German coastal fortifications around Toulon. The bombardment lasted until August 21. Subsequently the firing was extended to the entire Riviera. After the firing the ship monitored the western Mediterranean until it was sent to Portsmouth and then to Cherbourg for an overhaul at the end of the year.

The last operation of the Lorraine was carried out in April 1945. Together with several destroyers and cruisers the ship supported the Vormasch of the 10th French and the 66th American division with the bombardment of the German fortress Girond-Nord in Royan. After the completion of the support, the ship returned first to Brest and then to Toulon, where it remained until the end of the war.





After the Second World War, the Lorraine served as a training ship for the artillery crew from February 1947, and later as a residential ship.

It was decommissioned as a warship on 17 February 1953, sold on 18 December 1953 and then scrapped in Brégaillon in January 1954.




Ship data:





Type of ship:  




Building yard:  

Ateliers et Chantiers de la Loire

Building costs:  



September 30th, 1913


March 10th, 1916


Scrapped in Brégaillon as of January 1954


166 meters


27 meters


Max. 9,8 meters


Max. 25.000 tons


1.133 men


24 Guyot-du-Temple cauldron

after reconstruction:
6 Indret steam boiler

2 Parsons steam turbines


29.000 HP (22.000 kW)

Maximum speed:  

20 knots (37 kilometres per hour)




10 × Rapid fire gun 34 cm L/55 in 5 double towers

22 × Rapid fire gun 13,86 cm L/55 model 1910 in single towers

2 × Rapid fire gun 4,7 cm L/50 Hotchkiss

4 × torpedo tubes ⌀ 45 cm


Belt: 160-270 mm
Citadel: 80-180 mm
Upper deck: 30-40 mm
Upper armoured deck: 40 mm
Lower armoured deck: 40 mm
Longitudinal tank bulkhead: 8 mm
Bar beds: 248-270 mm
Towers: 72-400 mm
Casemate: 180 mm
Command tower: 314 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.

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