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Quick reference
Laid down: December 1936
Launched: 6 March 1940
Commissioned: June 1940 (incomplete)
Richelieu class
Ships: Richelieu, Jean Bart.
Scrapped, 1970.
Free French naval ensign French naval ensign
Jean Bart French super-dreadnought fast battleship

Jean Bart was the second ship of the Richelieu class.

As the Wehrmacht overran France in June 1940 arrangements were made for Jean Bart to escape to Casablanca (still incomplete) to prevent her falling into German hands. Only one of the two main turrets had been finished, with the guns for the second still needing to be fitted. Captain Ronarc'h ordered the guns to be loaded onto the coaler Mecanicien Principal Carvin. However, the boom of the crane loading the ship was too weak to to transfer all the guns, which were 18 metres long and 100 tonnes each. Only 2 guns were loaded, with the remaining two being destroyed on the quay to prevent their use by the Germans. Unfortunately the cargo ship was sunk by the Luftwaffe at the entrance of the Gironde between Royan and Le Verdon.[1]

Jean Bart remained at Casablanca throughout the Second World War. On 8 November 1942 she was attacked and damaged by American aircraft and battleship U.S.S. Massachusetts. On the 10th Jean Bart opened fire on the American heavy cruiser U.S.S. Augusta and was again bombed by planes from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ranger. Following the success of Operation Torch Jean Bart changed sides and joined the allies, but did not leave Casablanca until returning to France in 1945.

After World War Two Jean Bart's design was modified and she was completed in 1949. Jean Bart was part of the Anglo-French force during the "Suez Crisis". She was placed in reserve in 1957, decommissioned in 1961 and finally scrapped in 1970.


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