fighting ships of the world



SUFFREN battleship (1903)

Suffren 1903

Name No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Suffren   Arsenal de Brest 5/1/1899 25/7/1899 10/1903 sunk 26/11/1916


Displacement normal, t


Displacement full, t


Length, m

125.9 wl

Breadth, m


Draught, m

8.38 max

No of shafts



VTE, 24 Niclausse boilers

Power, h. p.


Max speed, kts


Fuel, t

coal 1120

Endurance, nm(kts)


Armour, mm

Harvey Nickel steel; belt: 300 - 100, upper belt: 130 - 110, main turrets: 325, turret bases: 280, secondary guns: 150 - 100, CT: 300 - 250, decks: 110


2 x 2 - 305/40 M1893-96, 10 x 1 - 165/45 M1893-96, 8 x 1 - 100/45 M1893, 22 x 1 - 47/40 M1885, 2 x 1 - 37/20 M1885, 4 - 450 TT (beam, 2 sub, 2 aw)



Ship project history: This ship was a further development of Charlemagne and Iéna and was marked by the reintroduction of turrets for some of the secondary armament. The 305mm guns were disposed as in Charlemagne and four of the 165mm were in main deck amidships casemates sponsoned out as previously. Two of the single turrets were above these casemates, two by the foremast and two abaft the after funnel, all being at upper deck level.

Ship protection: The belt was complete, extending from 1.1m above to 1.4m below water, and was 300mm amidships with a 120mm lower edge reduced to 230mm and 100mm at the ends. The upper belt ended in a 110mm bulkhead near the stem and was 2m wide. The armour deck at belt upper edge level was 70mm reduced to 50mm forward and aft, and the deck at the belt lower edge was 40mm max. There was cellular layer and cofferdams, while in addition there were four longitudinal semi-bulkheads 0.7m high on the armour deck to try and localise flooding. The casemates had 125mm armour with 150mm ammunition tubes and the secondary turrets 125mm with 100mm bases.

Modernizations: 1900s: - 2 - 450 TT (aw)

Naval service: Suffren took part in the Dardanelles attack on 18 March 1915 and was hit about 14 times. A large shell burst below water close to the hull forward and flooded some compartments, causing an appreciable list, and a 238mm pierced the roof of a port casemate and burst, putting three 165mm guns out of action and starting a dangerous ammunition fire which might have been disastrous if the charges had not been in metal QF cases. Suffren was later torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U52 off the Portuguese coast 26/11/1916. She was on her way to refit at Lorient and was unescorted. It is thought that magazines exploded, and she sank at once with no survivors.




Ivan Gogin, 2014