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The Battleship That Sunk Twice But Survived WW2

The Battleship That Sunk Twice But Survived WW2


On the 1st of January, 1939 the French Dunkerque-class Battleship Strasbourg became commissioned into service.

Line drawing of the Dunkerque class

The Dunkerque-class battleships were not as well-armed as contemporary battleships because they were purposefully built to counter the German Deutschland-class pocket battleships, which were in effect extra-heavy cruisers.

However, the design of the class was innovative, having the entire main armament mounted forward in two quadruple turrets. As a result, which allowed unrestricted forward fire. During the Phony War (an eight-month period at the start of World War II, during which there was only one limited military land operation on the Western Front, when French troops invaded Germany’s Saar district), battleship Strasbourg escorted convoys. 

After the fall of France, she was docked in Mers-el-Kébir, Algeria alongside her sister ship Dunkerque. On 3 July 1940, British Force H executed Operation Catapult and attacked the French fleet there. While other French ships were damaged, Strasbourg managed to escape, eventually making her way to Toulon, France, becoming the flagship of the Vichy French Navy. On 27 Nov 1942, the Germans broke the armistice and invaded Toulon. 

Moreover, along with most of the French fleet, she was scuttled by opening sea valves and then by demolition charges, with some of her guns firing at German tanks as she sank; she was hit by a German tank during the 27 Nov 1942 action and suffered 1 officer killed and 6 sailors wounded.

Profile view of Strasbourg from a US Navy warship recognition guide

On the 17th of July 1943, she was refloated by the Italian Navy in an attempt to either put her into service or to use as scrap, but the Italian surrender prompted a German takeover of the ship. 

Then, on the 1st of April 1944, she returned under Vichy French control.

On 18 Aug 1944, she was sunk a second time in Toulon, this time as the result of American aerial bombing.

On the 1st of October 1944, she was refloated by the Free French. Re-entering French naval service, she was used as a test bed for underwater explosions until 22 Mar 1955. She was sold for scrapping on 27 May.

  • Displacement; 26,500 tons standard
  • Length: 706 feet
  • Beam: 102 feet
  • Power Output :135,585 shaft horsepower
  • Speed : 31 knots
  • Range: 7,500nm
  • Crew: 1,381
  • Armament: 2x4x330mm guns, 3x4x130mm AA guns, 2x2x130mm AA guns, 5x2x37mm AA guns
  • Armor: 225mm side belt, 30mm bulkheads, 115-125mm deck, 310-330mm turrets
  • Aircraft: 4 floatplanes
  • Catapult: 1

Written by Kim Hansen

The Battleship That Sunk Twice But Survived WW2