French cruiser Pluton: Wikis

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Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Name: Pluton
Namesake: Pluto
Builder: Arsenal de Lorient
Laid down: 16 April 1928
Launched: 10 April 1929
Commissioned: 25 January 1932
Homeport: Toulon
Fate: Sunk by accidental explosion 13 September 1939
General characteristics
Displacement: 5300 tonnes standard, 6214 tonnes full load
Length: 152.5 m
Beam: 15.5 m
Draught: 5.2 m
Propulsion: 2 shaft, 4 boilers 2 geared steam turbines 57,000 hp
Speed: 30 knots
Range: 4500 nmi at 14 knots, 2200 nmi at 24 knots
Capacity: 1000 troops, 250 mines
Complement: 514 men
Armament:

4 x 1 138 mm Modèle 1927 guns
10 x 1 37 mm guns

250 mines
Armour: none

The Pluton was a specialist minelaying cruiser built for the French Navy in the early 1930s.

Design

The Marine Nationale decided to build a fast minelayer after the British HMS Adventure made its debut in the early 1920s. This ship was similar in many respects being armed with four single mid-caliber guns but was smaller and faster. She could also be used as a fast transport for up to 1000 troops. The ship had unitised machinery with geared steam turbines and could carry 250 mines. There was no armour protection.

Service

She entered service with the French Mediterranean fleet based in Toulon in 1932. The Pluton experienced many teething problems, particularly with the machinery. It was then decided to give her an extra role as a gunnery training ship which involved installing extra rangefinders and other fire control equipment, as well as two 75mm AA guns. The machinery was refurbished in the late 1930s, and it was planned to convert her into a full-time training ship as consort to the cruiser Jeanne d'Arc.

As war approached it was decided to retain her as a minelayer, and most of the extra fire control equipment was removed. The ship was then based at Brest on the Atlantic coast. In September 1939 she was ordered to lay a defensive minefield outside Casablanca, Morocco. The order was, however, canceled at the last minute, and the ship was ordered to disembark the mines. While landing the mines one of them exploded, destroying the ship and killing 186 people. A further 37 of the ship's crew and 47 shore-based personnel were injured, and significant damage was caused by flying debris.

References

  • John Jordan, The Minelaying Cruiser Pluton, in Warship 2004 Conway's Maritime Press
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