Battleship République

The battleship République belonged to the ship class of the same name, which was built in France at the beginning of the 20th century and was one of the strongest battleships until the launch of the British HMS Dreadnought.


Launch and design:

In the wake of the French rearmament of the navy and the goal of having 24 battleships built and in service by the beginning of the 20th century, new criteria for the following ships were put out to tender by the French Ministry of the Navy after the construction of the battleship Suffren.

The new battleships were to be much more armoured and better armed than their predecessors. The ships already under construction by the designer Louis-Émile Bertin were taken as a basis, but adapted to the new requirements.

Thus the two planned ships of the République class had a length of 135,25 meters, a width of 24,25 meters and a displacement of 14.870 tons, which led to a draught of 8,2 meters.

The armament consisted of a total of 4 guns of the model Canon de 305 mm Modèle 1893/96 which lay in a twin turret in front and behind. Further armament consisted of 18 x 164 mm guns, 24 x 47 mm guns and 2 x 450 mm torpedo tubes.

The armour on the belt consisted of a 280 mm armour, the deck was newly constructed so that 2 armour decks were created. The upper deck had 54 mm armour, the lower deck 51 mm. The two twin turrets were armored with 360 mm steel, the turrets of the middle artillery with up to 138 mm.

Three vertical triple expansion engines with an output of 17.500 hp were installed as propulsion, which brought the ship to a maximum speed of 18 knots.

The République was then launched on 4 September 1902 and put into service on 12 January 1907.



Battleship République


Drawing of the République Class


Launch of the battleship République




History of the République:

After the commissioning and the test runs wireless telegraph tests with the Eiffel Tower were carried out on the République and the armored cruiser Kléber before the République was assigned to the 1st squadron of the Mediterranean Division.

Until the middle of 1909 the annual exercises and manoeuvres were carried out in the Mediterranean Sea, 1909 the République was temporarily transferred to the Atlantic Ocean to carry out manoeuvres there and to call at some Spanish ports.

During an exercise on 18 February 1910 to simulate the attack on the port of Nice, an accident occurred when the battleship Patrie launched a torpedo which accidentally hit the republique. To repair the damage to the hull of the ship, it had to go to the shipyard of Toulon. After the repair, the République took part again in exercises in the Mediterranean, which had to be stopped at the beginning of December 1910, when typhoid fever spread on the participating ships.

In April 1911, exercises were again carried out in the Mediterranean, involving two British battleships, two Italian battleships and a Spanish cruiser. At the beginning of August 1911, the new battleships of the Danton class were put into service and assigned to the 1st squadron. The République and other, older ships were accordingly transferred to the 2nd squadron.

In September, the République lay together with other battleships in the shipyard of Toulon. Directly beside the ship lay the Liberté, on which there was a heavy explosion of the propellants on 25 September 1911. A flying armor plate weighing 37 tons hit the République directly under the front turret and caused serious damage.




The damage to the battleship République caused by the flying armor plate of the exploded Liberté




After the damage had been repaired, shooting exercises were carried out in April 1912, followed by a round trip to Corsica and Algeria. At the end of the year until April 1913, the ship was again in the shipyard of Toulon for maintenance.

From the beginning of April 1913 to 19 May, the largest exercise of the 16 French battleships to date was carried out in the Mediterranean.

Until the end of 1913 and the middle of 1914, further exercises and round trips were carried out, this time on a smaller scale. After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and the increasing political tensions in Europe, the battleships were ordered to remain in their home ports and on alert.



Battleship République


Battleship République




Use in war:

On 1 August 1914, France announced its mobilisation, which also concerned the battleships in the Mediterranean, since they were to leave on 2 August. Background was the fear that the German warships operating in the Mediterranean could attack French troop transports from the African colonies, therefore the French ships should escort these.

The République and the other ships of the 2nd squadron were then sent to Algiers to accompany 7 transport ships with the soldiers of the XIXth corps to France.

After the completion of the transport and the declaration of war of France and Great Britain to Austria-Hungary, the ships of the 1st and 2nd squadrons were sent to the Adriatic Sea to prevent the departure of the Austrian warships or to sink them during the departure. The only combat that took place was with the protected cruiser SMS Zenta and the torpedo boat Ulan, during which the Ulan escaped and the Zenta was sunk.

The ships then patrolled only along the coast, with the two ships Justice and Démocratie colliding on 17 August 1914. The République then had to tow the two ships to Malta so that they could be repaired there.

From September onwards, the French ships finally began to bombard positions on the coast to force the enemy fleet to leave. This remained however further in the harbours, so that it came to no further battle.

Only when the battleship Jean Bart was torpedoed by an Austro-Hungarian submarine in December did the French High Command decide to move its battleships further to the south of the Mediterranean so that they would be better protected from submarines.

After Italy entered the war against Austria-Hungary in 1915, the Italian navy took over the tasks of securing the ships and the French warships withdrew mainly to the ports of Malta and Bizerte.

The République was transferred to the Dardanelles in January 1916 to support the Allied ships and troops there. Shortly after the landing in Gallipoli had to be stopped and the allied troops withdrew, the République also supported the retreat by firing at the Ottoman positions.

Subsequently the ships of the République and Liberté class were combined in the 3rd squadron and sent to Thessaloniki in Greece. There the ships should increase the pressure on the Greek government not to take part in the war at the side of the German Empire and Austria-Hungary, but to join the Allies. In August 1916, a group of putschists prepared the overthrow of the Greek monarch with the aim of joining the Allies in the war. This group was supported by French and British soldiers who went ashore in Athens on 1 December. However, the group was quickly pushed back by Greek soldiers and armed civilians. The Allied warships then blocked the Greek ports. After the abdication of the monarch in June 1917, the 3rd squadron was dissolved and the République moved to the eastern Mediterranean.

During a stay in the port of Lemnos on the night of 17 to 18 November, the anchor of the ship disengaged and it ran aground in the port basin. The repair was also used to remove some guns in December 1917, as part of the crew had to be withdrawn to serve on submarines.

On January 29th the République ran to Toulon for maintenance. Two of its 305 mm guns were also to be exchanged. When these were dismantled, the French Navy decided to convert them to field guns and use them on the western front. Since the ship received no replacement guns, it served until the end of the war finally only as a training ship.




Battleship République


Battleship République





After the end of the war, the République initially remained as a training ship and was officially handed over to the school of armament and cannoning masters on 1 July 1919.

From 2 October, the remaining 305 mm guns and all 164 mm guns were removed.

From 1920 further, not quite so old battleships were converted to training ships. The République was replaced by the battleship Diderot on December 9, 1920.

On 21 May 1921 it was finally decommissioned, sold in November and then scrapped in Savona, Italy.




Ship data:





Type of ship:  




Building yard:  

Arsenal de Brest

Building costs:  



September 4th, 1902


January 12th, 1907


Sold and scrapped in Savona in November 1921


135,25 meters


24,25 meters


Max. 8,2 meters


Max. 14.870 tons


742 men


3 vertical triple expansion machines


17.500 HP

Maximum speed:  

18 knots (33 kilometres per hour)




4 × 305 mm guns

18 × 164 mm guns

24 × 47 mm guns

2 × 450 mm torpedo tubes


Belt: 280 mm
Upper deck: 54 mm
Lower deck: 51 mm
Main guns: 360 mm
Towers: 138 mm
Control tower: 266 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.

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.

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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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