French Navy / Marine Nationale - Cruiser

C 611  -  FS Colbert



c 611 colbert insignia crest patch badge tapes cruiser french navy marine nationale

c 611 fs colbert cruiser french navy marine nationale

Type, Class:


Cruiser, later converted to a Missile Cruiser / unique unit



DCAN, Brest, France



Laid down: December 1953

Launched: March 24, 1956

Commissioned: May 5, 1959

placed in reserve in 1972

Decommissioned: May 1991

Fate: museum ship 1993-2007 / mothballed in Landevennec / awaiting disposal






Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683)

Ship’s Motto:



Technical Data:

(Measures, Propulsion,

Armament, Aviation, etc.)


General characteristics:

Lenght: 180,47 meters

Beam: 20,31 meters

Draught: 5,8 meters

Displacement: 11300 tons (full load)

Speed: 31+ knots (57+ km/h)

Range: 4000 NM (7400 km) at 25 knots (46 km/h)

Crew: 997 (originally) / 562 (as missile cruiser)


2 CEM-Parsons steam turbine groups / 4 Indret boilers (63286 kW / 86000 hp)      

2 shafts / 2 propellers



as gun cruiser:

16 x 127mm (5 inches) guns

20 x 57mm Bofors guns

as missile cruiser:

2 x 100mm guns

20 x 57mm Bofors guns

4 x MM38 Exocet SSM launchers

1 x twin arm launcher for Masurca SAM


ship images


c-611 fs colbert cruiser french navy



Jean-Baptiste Colbert


jean baptiste colbert



Jean-Baptiste Colbert (August 29, 1619 - September 6, 1683)


... was a French politician who served as the Minister of Finances of France from 1665 to 1683 under the rule of King Louis XIV. His relentless hard work and thrift made him an esteemed minister. He achieved a reputation for his work of improving the state of French manufacturing and bringing the economy back from the brink of bankruptcy. Historians note that, despite Colbert's efforts, France actually became increasingly impoverished because of the King's excessive spending on wars. Colbert worked to create a favourable balance of trade and increase France's colonial holdings.

Colbert's market reforms included the foundation of the Manufacture royale de glaces de miroirs in 1665 to supplant the importation of Venetian glass (forbidden in 1672, as soon as the French glass manufacturing industry was on sound footing) and to encourage the technical expertise of Flemish cloth manufacturing in France. He also founded royal tapestry works at Gobelins and supported those at Beauvais. Colbert worked to develop the domestic economy by raising tariffs and by encouraging major public works projects. Colbert also worked to ensure that the French East India Company had access to foreign markets, so that they could always obtain coffee, cotton, dyewoods, fur, pepper, and sugar. In addition, Colbert founded the French merchant marine.

Colbert issued more than 150 edicts to regulate the guilds. One such law had the intention of improving the quality of cloth. The edict declared that if the authorities found a merchant's cloth unsatisfactory on three separate occasions, they were to tie him to a post with the cloth attached to him.


FS Colbert (C 611):


FS Colbert (C 611) was an anti-air cruiser, later transformed into a missile cruiser, of the French Navy. She was the sixth ship (and second cruiser) of the French Navy to be named after Jean-Baptiste Colbert (the previous one was scuttled at Toulon in 1942). She served in the Navy from 1956 to 1991, before being converted into a museum ship at Bordeaux from 1993. Since 2007 she has been anchored in the roadstead of Brest awaiting scrapping.

Early service
Her construction began in the Brest dockyards in 1953. She was designed as a powerful ship, the second of the De Grasse series, able to overcome all threats solely by her guns' weight of fire - she had 57mm and 127mm turrets for a firing rate of one shot per second. Launched on 24 March 1956 in Brest, France, starting her trials on 5 December 1957 and officially entering active service on 5 May 1959, she was made part of a 15-ship squadron, with the main aims of protecting aircraft carriers from air attack, shore bombardment for ground operations, command hub for naval operations and evacuating French expatriates from overseas. In 1964 a naval reorganisation made her the flagship of France's Mediterranean squadron (escadre de Méditerranée) at Toulon, which was mainly made up of complementary units such as aircraft-carriers and frigates.

Foreign representative

Her role as a foreign representative of France was important. In 1961 she repatriated the remains of marshal Hubert Lyautey and she ferried General De Gaulle both on his 1964 South American tour and on his June-July 1967 official visit to Canada (the latter trip was the occasion of his famous "Vive le Québec libre speech" - the diplomatic row which followed put an end to the trip). During the Atlantic crossing on board Colbert De Gaulle signed a number of decrees, such as n°67-611 (23 July 1967, on interpreters in the army reserve) and n°67-612 (on interpreters in the naval reserve). The Colbert also represented France at the bicentennial festivities in Australia in 1988.

Later life
Built too late, after the cruiser's time as the main arbiter of naval warfare had passed, the Colbert was superseded at the end of the 1960s by a new generation of ships better adapted to new threats. Her big-gun-based armament had become obsolete and inefficient against supersonic attack aircraft and thus between 1970 and 1972 she underwent extensive modifications in Brest to become a missile cruiser, with a double ramp of Masurca Surface-to-air missiles. She once again became flagship for the Mediterranean squadron from 1976, but her duties from then on were mainly humanitarian or representative - Agadir in 1960 and the evacuation of Bizerte in 1961. She gained a reputation within the French Navy as a ship that had never fired a single shot in anger, with her only ever active service being in the 1991 Gulf War (operation "Salamandre") a few months before she was decommissioned on 24 May that year.

Museum ship
Between June 1993 and 2007, she was a museum and monument historique in the port of Bordeaux. During 2004 she was France's most-visited museum ship and the city's most-visited historic attraction. She was a private museum, belonging to the state but with the museum's running handed over to "The Friends of the Colbert" association. A visit lasted between 2 and 3 hours, with guided visits given access to parts of the ship closed off to the public, such as the engine rooms and cabins. The ship also housed several permanent exhibitions on the Navy, Météo-France and architectural models (in which one could see modellers at work). The ship's siren went off at midday every Wednesday and Sunday. A covered restaurant and dance-room was built on her foredeck, served by the ship's former kitchens. A "Colbert" stop on the quay by the ship was even planned on the city's tramway, allowing faster access to or from the city centre and thus increase visitor numbers, whilst the ship's presence led to the quays becoming highly developed.

However, the museum ship also had its critics in the city, such as those living by the quays (a "Let's Sink the Colbert" association even fielded a candidate in the municipal elections of 1995), and the ship also got into recurring financial problems - despite being the owner, the state did not pay its maintenance costs necessary to keep up the ship's security and image (to completely repaint the ship, for example, cost more than 500,000 €, too high a price for the museum's budget). Under pressure from the Mairie of the city and local associations, and without other funding forthcoming, the museum ship closed to the public on 2 October 2006.

She was towed on 31 May 2007 (the date that the concession to the "Friends" ran out) to join the mothball fleet in Landevennec. Due to major technological similarities, the Navy cannibalized parts from her from time to time (mainly from the boilers and turbines) to maintain the helicopter-carrier Jeanne d'Arc, with the decommissioning of the Jeanne d'Arc in September 2010 the Colbert was free to be dismantled.


source: wikipedia


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