French battleship Danton (1909): Wikis


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Danton-Marius Bar-img 3137.jpg
Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Namesake: Georges Danton
Ordered: 1906 programme[1]
Builder: Brest shipyard
Laid down: 3 February 1908[2]
Launched: 4 July 1909
Commissioned: 1 June 1911
Fate: Sunk by U-64 on 19 March 1917
General characteristics
Class and type: Danton class battleship
Displacement: 18,318 metric tons (18,029 long tons) standard, 19,763 metric tons (19,451 long tons) full load
Length: 144.9 m (475 ft 5 in)
Beam: 25.8 m (84 ft 8 in)
Draught: 9.2 m (30 ft 2 in)
Propulsion: 4 shaft Parsons turbines, 26 Bellville or Niclausse coal fired boilers, 22,500 horsepower (16.8 MW)
Speed: 19.2 knots (35.6 km/h; 22.1 mph)
Complement: up to 923

4 × 305mm/45 Modèle 1906 guns in twin mounts
12 × 240mm/50 Modèle 1902 guns in twin mounts
16 × 75mm/65 Modèle 1906 guns in single mounts
10 × 47 mm guns (single)

2 × 450 mm Torpedo tubes (M12D)

270 mm (11 in) Belt
48 mm (2 in) upper deck
45 mm (2 in) lower deck
300 mm (12 in) main turrets

200 mm (8 in) secondary turrets

Danton was a pre-dreadnought battleship of the French Navy and the lead ship of her class. She was a technological leap in battleship development for the French Navy, as she was the first ship in the fleet with turbine engines.[3] However, like all battleships of her type, she was completed after the Royal Navy battleship HMS Dreadnought, and as such she was outclassed before she was even commissioned.

During her career Danton was sent to Great Britain to honor the coronation of George V, and later served in World War I as an escort for supply ships and troop transports, guarding them from elements of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. She was also assigned to help keep the Yavuz Sultan Selim, a nominally Turkish but de facto German battlecruiser, out of the Mediterranean Sea.

While en route to aid a blockade she was torpedoed and sunk on 19 March 1917 by a German U-boat, leaving 296 men dead. The location of the wreck remained a mystery until an underwater survey team inadvertently discovered the battleship in December 2007. In February 2009, the wreck was confirmed to be Danton.[4] The ship is in remarkably good shape for her age. Danton rests upright on the ocean floor, and most of the original equipment is reported to be intact.



Although the Danton class battleships were "a major step forward" from the preceding Liberté class, especially with the 3,000-ton displacement increase, they were outclassed by the advent of the dreadnought well before they were completed. This, combined with other poor traits, including the great weight in coal they had to carry, made them rather unsuccessful ships, though their rapid-firing guns were of some use in the Mediterranean.[1]


Danton underway

In May 1909, at the launching ceremony for Danton, socialist activists prevented the ship from leaving the stocks.[5] The ship was eventually launched on 4 July 1909. A week after she was completed, she was sent to the United Kingdom in honour of the Coronation of George V in 1911. Upon her return to France, Danton was assigned to the First Squadron, along with her sister ships and the two powerful dreadnoughts Courbet and Jean Bart.[6] In 1913, while off Hyères in the Mediterranean, Danton suffered an explosion in one of her gun turrets, which killed three men and injured several others.[7]

Danton served in World War I in the French Mediterranean Fleet, helping to protect French troop and supply ships from attack by the Austro-Hungarian Navy. She also helped to keep the Turkish battlecruiser TCG Yavuz Sultan Selim bottled up in the Black Sea.



Danton, commanded by Captain Delage, was torpedoed by U-64, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Robert Moraht, at 13:17 on 19 March 1917 22 miles (19 nmi; 35 km) south-west of Sardinia.[8] The battleship was returning to duty from a refit in Toulon and was bound for the Greek island of Corfu to join the Allied blockade of the Strait of Otranto.[8] Danton was carrying more men than normal as many were crew members of other ships at Corfu, and had been zig-zagging to foil enemy submarines.[8] The ship sank in 45 minutes; 806 men were rescued by the destroyer Massue and nearby patrol boats, but 296 including Captain Delage went down with the ship.[8] U-64 survived a counterattack and escaped.


French battleship Danton (1909) is located in Italy
Location of the wreck[9]

In February 2009, it was made public that in late 2007 the wreck of the ship was discovered "in remarkable condition" during an underwater survey between Italy and Algeria for the GALSI gas pipeline.[8][10] The wreck lies at 38°45′35″N 8°3′30″E / 38.75972°N 8.05833°E / 38.75972; 8.05833Coordinates: 38°45′35″N 8°3′30″E / 38.75972°N 8.05833°E / 38.75972; 8.05833, a few kilometres away from where it had been thought she sank, sitting upright with many of its gun turrets intact at a depth of over 1,000 metres (550 fathoms; 3,300 ft).[8]


  1. ^ a b Gardiner and Gray, p. 196
  2. ^ "Search results for "6104000" (Danton)" (Click on link for ship data). Miramar Ship Index. R.B. Haworth. Retrieved 3 March 2009.  
  3. ^ Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers, p. 1010
  4. ^ Fugro (2009-02-19). "The Reappearance of the Danton" (PDF). Fugro website. Retrieved 2009-02-19.  
  5. ^ Goldstein and Avery, p. 166
  6. ^ New International Encyclopedia, p. 148
  7. ^ The American Library Annual, p. 27
  8. ^ a b c d e f Amos, Jonathan (2009-02-19). "Danton wreck found in deep water". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-02-19.  
  9. ^ "Wrecksite, Danton SS". Retrieved 2009-02-21.  
  10. ^ Deb Krajnak (2009-02-19). "French battleship intact after nearly a century under water". CNN. Retrieved 2009-02-21.  


External links


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