French cruiser Colbert (1928)

Colbert was a French heavy cruiser of the Suffren class that saw service in World War II. She was named for Jean-Baptiste Colbert.

Name: Colbert
Namesake: Jean Baptiste Colbert
Builder: Brest Naval Yard
Laid down: 12 June 1927
Launched: 20 April 1928
Commissioned: 4 March 1931
Fate: scuttled at Toulon, 27 November 1942, Scrapped 1948
General characteristics
Class and type: Suffren-class cruiser
  • 10,000 tonnes (standard)
  • 12,780 tonnes (full load)
Length: 196 m (643 ft 1 in)
Beam: 20 m (65 ft 7 in)
Draught: 7.3 m (23 ft 11 in)
Propulsion: 3-shaft Rateau-Bretagne SR geared turbines, 9 Guyot boilers, 100,000 shp (75,000 kW)
Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)
Range: 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km; 5,200 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 773
Aircraft carried: 2 Loire-Nieuport 130
Aviation facilities: 2 catapults

Design and description

The design of the Suffren class was derived from the preceding Duquesne class with more armor exchanged for less speed. The ships had an overall length of 194 meters (636 ft 6 in), a beam of 19.26 meters (63 ft 2 in), and a draft of 6.57 meters (21 ft 7 in). They displaced 10,160 metric tons (10,000 long tons) at standard load and 13,135–13,644 t (12,928–13,429 long tons) at deep load. Their crew normally consisted of 647 men and increased by 84 when serving as flagships.[1]

Service history

Colbert was part of the 2nd Cruiser Division of the 1st Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean, which also included Duquesne and Tourville. In September 1939, at the start of World War II, Colbert was part of the 1st Cruiser Squadron, which also included Algérie, Dupleix, Foch, Duquesne and Tourville.

On 14 June 1940, the French navy executed Operation Samoyède. The 3rd French squadron, including cruisers Foch, Algérie, Dupleix and Colbert, bombarded Genoa, supported by the French Naval Air Arm.

Following the French surrender to Germany later that month, Colbert served with the navy of Vichy France. Colbert and much of the French fleet was taken out of action and kept at Toulon. On 27 November 1942, she was successfully scuttled at Toulon by her crew, despite the presence of German officers attempting to take control. She was blown apart when her magazine exploded. The rusted hull of Colbert remained there until 1948, when her remains were scrapped.


  1. Jordan & Moulin, pp. 50, 71–72


  • Jordan, John & Moulin, Jean (2013). French Cruisers 1922–1956. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-133-5.

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