Richelieu (1939)

Richelieu in September, 1943, after her refit in the United States. US Navy photo.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

The French battleship Richelieu was designed to counter the German Deutchland and Scharnhorst classes, so was given a heavy armament of eight 380mm (15") guns in two quad turrets, and a top speed of 30 knots. Despite commissioning in April, 1940, Richelieu was barely complete at the time of the fall of France, and was sent to Dakar before the German takeover. She was attacked by the British several times during her stay there, until she defected to the Free French in 1942 after the Allied invasion of North Africa. Following a major refit in New York, she was sent first to the Mediterranean, then to operate out of England. After a raid on shipping off Norway, she was deployed to operate in the Indian Ocean with the Royal Navy. Richelieu conducted raids on Japanese bases for the remainder of the War, and participated in operations to recapture British and French colonies after the Japanese surrender. She was placed in reserve in 1949, and spent the next two years undergoing a refit. Richelieu was used as a training ship from 1951, and she decommissioned in 1967. Scrapping began the next year.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: Despite both ships having relatively long post-War careers, Richelieu only cruised with her sister Jean Bart once, on 30 January, 1956.