Saturday, 25 February 2017

French seaplane carrier Commandant Teste

Unlike the Spanish and Italians seaplane carriers, the French Commandant Teste was specially designed and built as such. She was laid down at the FC Gironde shipyard in Bordeaux on 6th September 1927, launched on 12th April two years later, and entered service on 18th April 1932.

Ship’s characteristics:
  • Displacement: 10,000 tons (standard); 11,942 tons (full load)
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 547’ 11” (167m)
    • Beam: 88’ 7” (27m)
    • Draught: 22’ (6.7m)
  • Maximum Speed (when new): 27 knots
  • Armament: 12 x 3.9” (100mm) (12 x 1); 8 x 1.5” (37mm) Anti-aircraft Guns (8 x 1); 12 x 0.5” (13.2mm) Machine Guns (6 x 2)
  • Complement: 644
  • Aircraft carried: 26 seaplanes
  • Aviation facilities: 4 catapults; 5 cranes
During the Spanish Civil War Commandant Teste helped to protect neutral merchant shipping, and during World War II she acted as an aviation transport between France and North Africa and in support of the French Mediterranean fleet. She was slightly damaged during the bombardment of the French fleet at Mers-el-Kébir on 3rd July 1940, and later made her way to Toulon, where she was scuttled on 27th November 1942 after the German invasion of Vichy France.

Commandant Teste was refloated after the war and plans were prepared for her conversion into an escort or training carrier. As there were plenty of surplus American-built escort carrier available it was decided not to proceed with the conversion, and she was used as a store ship for until she was sold for scrap on 15th May 1950.

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