French cruiser D'Entrecasteaux

D'Entrecasteaux, later ORP Bałtyk was a French protected cruiser laid down in June 1894 and launched on 12 June 1896, she was completed in 1898. She was constructed at Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, La Seyne.[1] Created as protected cruiser and used as French flagship in the Far East. Polish school hulk, altered from French cruiser D’Entrecasteaux in 1927. Largest warship in Second Polish Republic's Navy and the only cruiser in it. Scrapped in 1942 by Germans.

Model of D'Entrecasteaux
Class overview
Operators:  French Navy
Preceded by: Catinat class
Succeeded by: Guichen
Built: 1894-1899
In commission: 1899-1922
Completed: 1
Retired: 1
Name: D'Entrecasteaux
Namesake: Admiral Antoine Bruni d'Entrecasteaux
Builder: Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, La Seyne-sur-Mer
Laid down: June 1894
Launched: 12 June 1896
Completed: 1898
In service: 1899
Out of service: 1922
Fate: Scrapped
General characteristics
Type: Protected cruiser
Displacement: 8,123 tonnes (7,995 long tons)
Length: 393.5 feet (119.9 m)
Beam: 58.5 feet (17.8 m)
Draught: 26 feet (7.9 m)
Installed power: 10,800 kW (14,500 hp)
Propulsion: 2 sets triple expansion steam boilers
Speed: 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph)
Complement: 521


Designed to serve the French Navy in the Far East, D'Entrecasteaux was less powerful than European equivalents.[2] The ship was based on Engineer Amable Lagane's project, which won military contest. Preparation to build began on 8 November 1893. After two years project has been improved by Engineer Treobul, who also took part in the contest. Ship has been laid down in La Seyne's dockyard - "Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée" on June 1894. Hull Launched on 12 June 1896. Engines and boilers has been manufactured in FCM workshop in Marseille, meanwhile weapons in La Seyne's and Hawr's workshop.[3] Navy supplied only 240 mm cannons. By 1 January 1898 ship started official trials. During them one boiler had a malfunction and 4 smokers has been scalded. During 24-hour trials the ship achieved maximum speed of 19,1 knots using 14 578 HP. Average speed had been estimated as 17,8 knots, with usage 8893 HP.[3] The ship had been joined to Navy fleet on 25 January 1899 and started service in 15 February 1899. Total cost of production was estimated to 16 693 477 francs (equivalent of 4846,5 kg of gold)[2]


Hull of the ship was completely made of steel. She had a three covered decks rising to a prow and stern. Height of broadside was 6,05 meters in lowest point and 7,88 in highest one. Insides of the cruiser were divided by bulkheads on six parts. Four of them was in the prow of ship, meanwhile another two were in stern part, and along with all compartments were 130 watertight rooms. Armor near water line had 20mm tight and was driven down to 10mm in upper parts. Her downsides were poor manoeuvrability, low speed and range, weak ventilation in crew and ammunition compartment and obsolete boilers.[2]


In main armament were two 240mm cannons model 1893 situated in armored towers placed on prow and stern. These cannons had length of 40 calibers and used 144-170 kg bullets. Lower ordnance was consisted of 12 cannons 138,6mm model 1893 with length of 45 calibers. Eight of them were put in casemates, four on each side and the last one were on main deck covered by anti-fragmentation lining. Auxiliary armament was made up from 12 47mm Hotchkiss cannons and 6 37mm Hotchiss cannons. Ship also carried two raid guns 65mm model 1881 on gun carriage.[4][5]


Cruiser were powered by steam engines, based on 5 cylindrical boilers, seated on a row, working under pressure of 10,5 atmospheres. Two engines contained three cylinders of triple expansion were placed in two separated rooms next to each other. Maximum revolutions per minute of propellers were 94 and 100 during over-thrust. Cruiser were equipped with two three-blades propeller with 516cm diameter. During trials average power was 8900 HP and maximum was 14 500 HP.[5][6]

Service in Polish Navy

The idea of buying a French cruiser for the Polish Navy arose in the early twenties. Ship was supposed to serve as submarine tender.[7] Transaction took place on 7 March 1927[8] (according to some publications, Poland bought ship in scrap value[7]). Total cost was 2 822 000 francs, including: hull 1 200 000 francs, extra equipment 1 282 745 and towing 350 000 francs. Hoist the colours happened in Cherbourg on 30 July 1927.[8] Management of Navy named cruiser "Król Władysław IV"[9], later (17 September 1927) by Daniel Konarzewski's orders, renamed her to "ORP Bałtyk" (Baltic). Change of name results from increasing royalists' influence in Parliament.[10]

Ship only had 6 guns 47mm Hotchkiss 85 used only in salutation. In the late twenties Navy wanted to transform her in anti-air battery defending "Gdynia-Oksywie", armed with 8 guns 75mm 1924. Idea never reached the effect in fear of loosing all of the armament in case of bombing the ship.[10] Naval specialists school moved to Gdynia 1 September 1927 was situated on "Bałtyk" in the beginning 1929, starting with 1928/1929 semester.[11]

On 1 April 1930 "Bałtyk" was transferred to school division as headquarters of the Naval specialists school (starting on 1 June 1935 - Center of Training Naval Specialists) and as a ship of the general deck group. She also served as Commander Józef Unrug's flagship.[12]

During the first day of WWII, "Bałtyk" was hit by a bomb on the quarterdeck, causing a small fire. The crew fought with German's air forces until 11 September, when the ship had to be abandoned due to being a large and easy to hit target. After that, the crew fought in Battle of Kępa Oksywska as defenders. During 16 and 17 September cruiser was shelled from land and sea, and repossessed by Germans on 19 September. They used ship as accommodation hulk and after that Germans scrapped the cruiser.[12] Most common version claims, that "ORP Bałtyk" was scrapped in Gdańsk in 1942[9], but some rumors said that ship was deconstructed between summer 1940 and summer 1941 next to Yugoslavia Jetty in Gdynia, and was later towed to Gdańsk.[12]


  1. Couhat, Jean Labayle (1974). French Warships of World War I. Shepperton: Ian Allan. p. 67. ISBN 0711004455.
  2. M. Twardowski (March 1996). "Krążownik pancernopokładowy D'Entrecasteaux. Pod czterema banderami". Morza, Statki i Okręty: 50–52.
  3. D. Jakimowicz. "Kriejsier-stacjoner 1-go kłassa D'Entrecasteaux (Крейсер-стационер 1-го класса Д'Антркасто". Morskaja Kollekcija: 18.
  4. D. Jakimowicz. "Kriejsier-stacjoner 1-go kłassa D'Entrecasteaux (Крейсер-стационер 1-го класса Д'Антркасто)". „Morskaja Kollekcija”: 9–10.
  5. D. Jakimowicz. "Kriejsier-stacjoner 1-go kłassa D'Entrecasteaux (Крейсер-стационер 1-го класса Д'Антркасто)". „Morskaja Kollekcija”: 12–13.
  6. D. Jakimowicz. "Kriejsier-stacjoner 1-go kłassa D'Entrecasteaux (Крейсер-стационер 1-го класса Д'Антркасто)". „Morskaja Kollekcija”: 19.
  7. M. Twardowski (January 1997). "„Krążownik pancernopokładowy" Bałtyk. Pod czterema banderami (2)". Morza, Statki i Okręty: 56.
  8. D. Jakimowicz. ". Kriejsier-stacjoner 1-go kłassa D'Entrecasteaux (Крейсер-стационер 1-го класса Д'Антркасто)". „Morskaja Kollekcija”: 30–31.
  9. M. Neumann (2013). Flota II Rzeczypospolitej i jej okręty. Łomianki: LTW. p. 213. ISBN 978-83-7565-309-0.
  10. M. Twardowski (January 1997). "„Krążownik pancernopokładowy" Bałtyk. Pod czterema banderami (2)". Morza, Statki i Okręty: 57.
  11. M. Twardowski (January 1997). "„Krążownik pancernopokładowy" Bałtyk. Pod czterema banderami (2)". Morza, Statki i Okręty: 58.
  12. M. Twardowski (January 1997). "„Krążownik pancernopokładowy" Bałtyk. Pod czterema banderami (2)". Morza, Statki i Okręty: 59–60.

[1] [2]

  1. Chesneau, Roger & Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press.
  2. John Moore et al, Jane's Fighting Ships of World War I, Random House Group Ltd
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