This is the second part dealing with the French Navy
Screw gun boats
All of these, and the following gun vessels, were built for the Crimean War.
Screw gun vessels
Steam transports with auxiliary screws
For transports rate was by tons of cargo. Calvados was the first of the new class to carry 2500 men, 150 horses and 1200 tons of stores. Excepting the ancient Zelee, these were new ships.
Steam frigates (paddle)
Sane is not listed by Conways. Asmodee is said to have been typical of larger French paddle frigates, but most were of similar size. She was 238′8″ long on deck, 40′10″ beam and 18′2″ draft. She carried 12 30-pr guns and 4 80-pr and 4 30-pr shell guns. New she made between 11 and 12 knots. Gomer apparently never carried the 20 guns listed, the usual armament being 2 80-pr shell guns and 6 30-pr guns. These ships were from 10 to 20 years old.
Steam corvettes (paddle)
Eumenide was 196′ long on deck, 30′7″ beam, 11′ draft and either 916 or 1016 tons. New and clean she made 8 knots and was initially armed with 2 30-pr guns and 4 30-pr shell guns. These ships were all around 10 years old.
The 160 NHP avisos of the Sphinx class were of 910 tons, 158′2″ on deck, 37′6″ beam and drew 12′6″ of water. They made around 8 knots when new. The usual armament was 2 or 4 30-pr shell guns or 6 24-pr carronades. These were rather old ships built from the late 1820s to early 1840s.
The newer 160 NHP iron ships, presumably including Epervier, were of the Narval class. Narval was built in 1843-1844 and was 45m long and 8m beam, rigged as a brig.
Laborieux was a much newer ship, usually used as a tug. She displaced 849 tons, was 158′10″ on deck, 27′11″ beam and 13′8″ draft. She made 8 knots when new and normally carried only 2 carronades.
Galilee measured 42m x 6m58 (11m53 over the sponsons) x 2m35 draft. She was used to test chloroform as the working fluid in the engines with the idea of avoiding boiler corrosion. This was not a great success as chloroform was expensive and boiler tubes continued to corrode all the same, so she was converted in 1855 to use methanol instead. Wood alcohol was cheaper, otherwise there was little improvement.
Steam tenders (paddle)
Sailing line of battle ships
|Suffren||3rd||4050||n/a||82||6 rifled guns|
|Ville de Marseille||4th||n/a||70|
Busk lists Hercule and Jemappes as ordered converted to screw, but this was never done. These two ships were famously bad sailors and as a result their sister ships were reworked to produce the Duguay-Trouin class of 90 gun auxiliary steamers. Suffren was test ship for the new M1858 rifled guns. Many of Suffren’s sister ships became 80 gun auxiliary steamers of the Bayard class. Friedland should be listed here as she remained a sailing 3-decker, details similar to Valmy. Valmy, Friedland and their steam sisters sailed and manouevred badly.
Valmy was 64m20 long on the lower deck, 16m80 beam, 8m55 depth of hold and 8m30 extreme draft. For Hercule the same measurements were 62m50, 16m20, 8m23 and 7m96 and for Suffren 60m50, 15m75, 8m02 and 7m83.
Ships marked * were converted to screw and details are in Conways. The 56 gun 1st rates were rearmed with 36 6.4-in and 5.5-in RML guns. Guerriere measured 245′ on the waterline, 47′10″ in the beam and drew 24′7″ of water. Top speed was about 11 knots. The smaller conversions carried 24 or more guns and made about 10-11 knots.
Most likely all of the 1st class frigates were begun as ships of the Belle Poule class with a displacement of 2550 tons, 54m40 long on deck, 14m10 beam, 7m10 depth of hold and 6m75 extreme draft. The 2nd class 52 gun frigates were likely all Artemise class ships of 2340 tons displacement, 52m50 deck, 13m40 beam, 7m10 depth of hold and 6m50 extreme draft.
The armament of sailing frigates was standardised on 30-prs. The 1837 regulations, which can have changed little before the adoption of rifled guns, called for a first class frigate to carry 60 guns: 28 30-pr long guns and 2 80-pr shell guns on the gun deck and 26 30-pr carronades and 4 30-pr shell guns on the spar deck. Frigates of the second and third classes carried 30-prs only: 28 short guns on the gun deck and 18 carronades and 4 shell guns on the spar deck for a second class of 50 guns; 22 short guns and 4 shell guns on the gun deck and 14 carronades on the spar deck for a third class of 40 guns.
Capricieuse was probably typical of a first class sailing corvette. She was 43m90 long and 11m80 beam with mean draft 4m90. She was probably armed with 20 30-pr short guns and 2 30-pr shell guns and had a crew of 254. The 1st class corvettes were between 10 and 20 years old, the 2nd class even older.
The oldest unreconstructed brig was Argus, launched in 1832, the majority had been launched in the late 1840s or reconstructed since then.
Sailing gun brigs
All these ships were launched or reconstructed in the middle of the 1840s.
Sailing schooners, cutters and small craft
|Ecureuil No. 1||n/a||2|
|Ecureuil No. 2||n/a||2|
Sailing mortar vessels
All built for the Crimean War.
Rate is again tons of cargo. These were generally old ships.
Busk’s summary gives the following numbers. Presumably the 55 schooners, etc, include the 8 screw gun vessels. The transports include 20 steam ships ordered but not yet begun.
|Ships of the line||51, 14 sail and 37 steam|
|114-130 guns||1 sail and 6 steam|
|90 guns||3 sail and 20 steam|
|82-70 guns||10 sail and 11 steam|
|Frigates||97, 40 sail and 57 steam|
|58-34 guns 19 steam||40 sail and 38 steam|
|paddle, 20-8 guns||19 steam|
|Corvettes 26-4 guns||38, 18 sail and 20 steam|
|Brigs and Avisos||102, 35 sail and 67 steam|
|Schooners, cutters, etc.||55, 47 sail|
|Screw gun vessels||8|
|Transports||73, 26 sail and 47 steam|
|Screw gun boats||20|
This comes to 449 ships, 180 sail and 265 steam, mounting 8,422 guns with an aggregate nominal horse power of 77,820. Of these, something between one quarter and one third were in commission for sea or harbour service at the start of 1859.
This then was the French Navy circa 1859. If there are any obvious errors, or things which don’t make any sense, please don’t hesitate to ask or to let me know and I’ll pass your comments and questions on to Angus.