French seaplane carrier Commandant Teste

French seaplane carrier Commandant Teste

French seaplane carrier Commandant Teste

The Commandant Teste was on an aircraft carrier of the French Navy and the Second World War. She was named after the pioneer of the French Naval Air Test Paul († 1925), who became the first Frenchman on 20 October 1920 landed on a ship’s deck.

The ship had a checkered career: it was during the British attack on the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir (Operation Catapult) on 3 July 1940 and the scuttling of the Vichy fleet in Toulon on 27 November 1942 involved. It was sunk twice and twice again lifted.

Technical specifications

After the aircraft carrier Béarn was put into service in 1926, the French Navy leadership wanted a second floating aircraft base, but opted for a faster and cheaper to be built aircraft carrier. The Commandant Teste was on Kiel in May of in 1927 with the shipyard “Chantier F et C de la Gironde” in Bordeaux, ran on 12 April 1929 from the pile and was put into service in 1932. At 167 m length, 27 m width and 7.40 m Draught they displaced 11,500 tons fully equipped. Two cutter – Zoelly turbine n together with PSW 21,000 (15,500 kW) gave it a top speed of 20.5 knots. The action radius was 8500 nautical miles. The armament consisted of twelve 100 mm and eight 37-mm anti-aircraft guns and twelve machine gun s. The crew numbered 686 men

The ship was equipped with four catapults and five cranes with lifting capacity of 12 tons. The hangar with a size of 84 m × 27 m × 7 m allowed to take up to 26 seaplane s. It could be either torpedo aircraft, bomber or reconnaissance aircraft. In fact, the Commandant Teste was equipped during their service including the following aircraft types:

•Levasseur Pl.15

•Latécoère 298

•Gourdou Leseurre-GL-813

•Loire 130

•Loire 210


The Commandant Teste and served in the Mediterranean during the Spanish Civil War took part in the Neutralitätspatroullien off the Spanish coast. After the outbreak of the Second World War they gave their seaplanes and served as an aircraft carrier between the French possessions in North Africa and the mainland.

On 3 July 1940 she was based at Mers-el-Kebir, when the British Force H under Vice Admiral Somerville attacked the French Navy units located there, the battleship Bretagne and sunk the other ships lying at anchor at the pier or damaged. The only major French ship that survived the attack with virtually no damage, was the Commandant Teste. The ship escaped during the night of 4 July mined from the harbor and ran over Arzew first to Bizerte and then to Toulon. It was spotted by the British submarine HMS Proteus, but that was no opportunity to attack.

The Commandant Teste was on 27 November 1942 in Toulon, as Admiral Jean de Laborde, commander of the High Seas Fleet of the Vichy regime s, after the invasion of the German army into the previously unoccupied zone of Vichy France (company Anton) the scuttling of the fleet commanded them not in German hands to drop. As nearly the entire fleet was sunk the Commandant Teste. She was raised in 1943 by the Italian Navy, but in 1944 again sunk by Allied bombers.


After the war she was raised in 1946 and again because they were considered repairable and wanted to use as a training ship. This turned out not to be feasible, and it served instead to 1950 as a storage vessel for delivered from the U.S. Military equipment. On 15 May 1950 it was deleted from the list of naval ships and eventually sold for scrap in 1963.


•Francis Dousset: Les porte-avions français the origines à nos jours 1911. Éditions de la Cité, Brest, 1878, ISBN 2-85186-015-1 (in French)

•John Jordan: The aircraft transport Commandant Teste. In:. Warship 2002-2003 Conway’s Maritime Press, ISBN 0-85177-926-3 (English)

Ship in World War II

Aircraft Carrier (France)

Steam ship

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