French cruiser Algérie

Algérie was a French heavy cruiser that served during the early years of World War II. One of the last of the so-called "Treaty Cruisers," she was considered one of the best designs commissioned by any of the naval powers.

Class overview
Operators:  French Navy
Preceded by: Suffren class
Succeeded by:
Built: 1931-1934
In commission: 1934-1942
Completed: 1
Lost: 1
Name: Algérie
Namesake: French Algeria
Builder: Brest Dock Yard
Laid down: 19 March 1931
Launched: 21 May 1932
Commissioned: 15 September 1934
Fate: Scuttled at Toulon on 27 November 1942. Scrapped 1949.
General characteristics
Type: Cruiser
  • 10,000 tons (standard)
  • 13,641 tons (full load)
Length: 186.2 m (611 ft)
Beam: 20 m (66 ft)
Draught: 6.15 m (20.2 ft)
  • 4-shaft Rateau-Bretagne SR geared turbines
  • 6 Indret boilers, 84,000 shp (63,000 kW)
Speed: 31 knots (57 km/h)
Range: 8,700 nautical miles (16,110 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Complement: 748
Aircraft carried: 3-Loire-Nieuport 130 seaplanes, 1 catapult (removed 1941)

Design and description

Algérie was built in response to the Italian Zara-class cruiser heavy cruisers that were more heavily armoured than the preceding Suffren class and was designed to take advantage of lighter propulsion machinery to improved her armour protection. The ship had an overall length of 186.2 metres (610 ft 11 in), a beam of 20 metres (65 ft 7 in), and a draft of 6.3 meters (20 ft 8 in). She displaced 10,160 tonnes (10,000 long tons) at standard load and 13,677 t (13,461 long tons) at deep load. The hull was divided by 16 bulkheads into 17 watertight compartments. The ship's crew consisted of 746 men as a flagship.[1]

Service history

Algérie started World War II as flagship of the 1st Cruiser Squadron which also included the cruisers Dupleix, Foch, Duquesne, Tourville, Colbert and destroyers from the 5th, 7th and 9th contre-torpilleur divisions. Algérie, Dupleix, the battleship Strasbourg and the British aircraft carrier Hermes were based in Dakar in French West Africa, while searching for the German heavy cruiser Admiral Graf Spee.

In March 1940, after refitting at Toulon, she accompanied the battleship Bretagne to Canada, with 3,000 cases of French gold. In April, Algérie returned to the Mediterranean and when Italy declared war on France, she helped shell Genoa in June.[2] Her last mission before the French surrender was as a convoy escort.

After the French defeat in 1940, Algérie remained with the Vichy fleet based at Toulon. Her only mission for the Vichy navy was to escort the battleship Provence back to Toulon, as the battleship had been summarily repaired after the damages received during the British attack on Mers-el-Kébir in 1940. In 1941, her secondary and anti-aircraft weaponry was strengthened and in 1942, she was fitted with the early French-built radar.

She was still there when the Germans invaded the so-called "Free Zone" on 27 November 1942. She was among the ships scuttled in the scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon. Demolition charges were set on the ship. The Germans tried to persuade her crew that scuttling was not permitted by Armistice provisions; her captain requested the Germans to wait until his superior could advise, as the fuses were lit. When Admiral Lacroix finally arrived, he ordered the ship evacuated; as the Germans were preparing to board, he told them that the cruiser was about to explode. She was blown up and burned for 20 days.

The Italians raised her in sections on 18 March 1943. The remains were bombed and sunk again on 7 March 1944, and were finally raised and broken up for scrap in 1949.[3]


  1. Jordan & Moulin, pp. 110, 113
  2. Rohwer, Juergen; Huemmelchen, Gerhard (2005), Chronology of the war at sea 1939-1945: The Naval History of World War Two (3rd ed.), London, England: Chatham Publishing, p. 28, ISBN 1-59114-119-2
  3. Warship International, No. 3, 1997, p. 310.


  • Guiglini, Jean (1991). "Question 9/89". Warship International. XXVIII (1): 92–102. ISSN 0043-0374.
  • Jordan, John & Moulin, Jean (2013). French Cruisers 1922–1956. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-133-5.
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