FS Colbert (C611) Anti-Aircraft Cruiser / Missile Cruiser Warship
FS Colbert was commissioned in 1959 and saw service into the early 1990s before being retired.
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Like other mainland European powers in the post-World War 2 world, France faced a long road in reestablishing its once-dominant military presence. This led to a period of vast development and construction for its various armed services including the Navy. In 1953, a new cruiser warship, with an anti-aircraft role in mind, was ordered by the French government. Its keel was laid down during December of 1953 at the shipyards of Brest. The vessel, carrying the name of Colbert (C611) after Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683), was put to sea on march 24th, 1956 and formally commissioned on May 5th, 1959.
Anti-aircraft warships rose to considerable prominence during World War 2 (1939-1945) when surface ships laden with rapid-firing cannon proved utterly useful as both fleet- and area-defense protectors. With missile technology still in its relative infancy, it fell to air defense warships to supply the needed screening against incoming aerial threats. Colbert was one such type of warship and immediately set about to providing the rebuilding French Navy with a powerful floating air denial battery.
As built, she was crewed by 562 men and could carry an additional 2,400 if pressed. The warship displaced 11,000 tons (long) under load and held an overall length of 592 feet with a beam measuring 66.7 feet and a draught down to 25.10 feet. Armament was 16 x 127mm AA guns (8 x twin-gunned mountings) along with 20 x 57mm Mod 51 AA guns (10 x twin-gunned mountings). Over stern was a single helicopter helipad - a new quality now being built into French warships of the period. Onboard provision allowed the warship to serve as fleet flagship and a command vessel.
Power was from 2 x CEM-Parsons geared steam turbines developing 86,000 horsepower to 2 x shafts. This propelled the vessel to speeds of 31 knots out to ranges of 4,000 nautical miles. The engines were arranged in two separate compartments, each assigned its own boiler unit and a geared turbine set. A watertight bulkhead divided these two compartments and improve the capability of the warship to operate on one engine should the other be knocked out by enemy fire.