Plaques & Visits 1981-2000

1986 – Jeanne d’Arc

Arc         Jeanne d’Arc (Helicopter carrier)

Botany Bay 1st March 1986 under Capitaine de vaisseau Xavier de Lussy

Built at Brest and originally named La Résolue, this ship entered service on 16 July 1964. The previous bearer of this name was a cruiser.

Its main characteristics:

Dimensions: length: 181.38 m; width: 24 m; draught: 7.50 m. It was 52 m from the top of the mast to the waterline.

Displacement: 10,575 tonnes (13,270 tonnes fully laden)

Range: 7,500 nautical miles at 15 knots. It could spend 90 days at sea, with 200 tonnes of rations.

Crew: 51 officers (including 17 devoted to training officer-students), 124 officer-students, 425 crew members.

The flight deck was 1275 m2 (60 x 20 m) allowing the simultaneous flying off of 2 Super Frelon  or 3 Lynx helicopters, with the possibility of parking two aircraft on the forward part of the flight deck and two on the after part, on either side of the aircraft lift.

The lift was 101 m2 (15.5 x 6.5 m), with a capacity of 12 tonnes, placed at the after part of the flight deck.

There was an aircraft hangar (36 x 18 x 5 m) situated underneath the flight deck, allowing the parking of 8 aircraft in wartime by taking over part of the space devoted to the housing and instruction of officer‑students in time of peace. The hanger included an area at the after part for aircraft inspection as well as workshops required for the maintenance of the aircraft themselves and their electronics and areas for the readiness of torpedoes, rockets, etc. carried by the helicopters.

Its air group comprised Alouette III helicopters, later reinforced by a detachment of Army helicopters (2 x Cougar and 3 x Gazelle) with a detachment of 40 men on training cruises.

It also housed a 16-bed hospital with an operating theatre.

It was propelled by 4 boilers driving 4 turbines. There were two 4-bladed propellors, giving a maximum speed of 27 knots.

Armament included 6 missile ramps for Exocet missiles; two 100-mm turrets; and 4 x 12.7 mm machine guns.

In time of war it could be used in an antisubmarine role; it could also be used as a troop transport.

It was never engaged in war but was several times involved in humanitarian operations (notably in 1988, 1998, and 2005), as well as actions such as the liberation of the hostages on board the sailing vessel Ponant in 2008.

On 27 May 2010, Jeanne d’Arc berthed at Brest for the last time and, on 1 September 2010, her colours were lowered for the last time. Two months later, on 2 November 2010, she was retired permanently from service and her crew dispersed.  

1988 – Admiral Bernard LOUZEAU
Plaque – 18 December 1988
Admiral Bernard LOUZEAU
Admiral LOUZEAU was born on 19 November 1929 at Tadence (Gironde). His secondary schooling took place at the Institution Notre-Dame de Sainte-Croix (Neuilly-sur-Seine) and later at the Lycée Saint-Louis (Paris). He entered the Naval School on 1st October 1947, and was then on board the training cruiser JEANNE d’ARC.
He served in Indochina from October 1950, initially on board the sloop ANNAMITE, then, in turn from May 1951 to September 1952 commanding the LCM 49, the 258th Assault Craft Section, and the Hué LCM Group of the Amphibious Flotilla of Southern Indochina.
In December 1952, he was posted to the submarine L’AFRICAINE. In 1954, he qualified as an antisubmarine warfare specialist and gained a certificate in submarine navigation. In December 1954, he was appointed to the submarine NARVAL as antisubmarine warfare officer, later becoming second-in-command. In February 1958, he took command of the submarine LAUBIE (which was formerly a Type VII-C U-boat of the German Kreigsmarine with pendant number U 766, which was surrendered to French and commissioned)
At the end of this command he was admitted as a trainee, then teacher, of neutronics at the Military Atomic Energy School (École d’application militaire de l’énergie atomique). He obtained the qualification of nuclear warfare specialist and a diploma in nuclear enginerring.
In June 1962, he took command of the submarine DAUPHIN and then, in September 1963, he joined the Supreme Naval War School. In April 1965, he was posted to the Personnel Directorate, as Secretary to the Submarine Personnel Committee.
In April 1967, he was designated as commander of the nuclear missile submarine LE REDOUTABLE, and he took command of this ship in April 1968. He carried out trials of the boat and its armament until it entered service, and carried out its first operational patrol with crew BLUE (early 1972). After a year at Naval Headquarters, he was posted to the Private Naval Staff of Presidents Pompidou and Giscard d’Estaing (1974-1975).
In February 1976, he took command of the missile frigate SUFFREN. After this command finished, he attended the Centre for Higher Military Studies and the Institute for Higher National Defence Studies. In July 1978, he became chief of the Nuclear Forces Division at the Armed Forces Headquarters.
He was promoted Rear-Admiral on 1st March 1979. On 1st August 1980, he took over as Deputy-Chief of Staff for Operations at Naval Headquarters. On 1st October 1982, he was appointed to the command of the Mediterranean Squadron and promoted Vice Admiral on 1st January 1983.
He was promoted Squadron-Vice-Admiral on 1st June 1984, taking command of the Submarine Froces and the Strategic Ocean Force. In March 1985, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces. He was promoted to full Admiral and appointed Chief of Staff of the French Navy on 30 January 1987.
He was placed on the Retired List (2ème Section) on 20 November 1990. He is a Grand Officier of the Légion d’Honneur, Grand Cross of the Ordre National du Mérite, Commander of the Ordre du Mérite maritime, and holder of the Croix de guerre T.O.E.

Presentation of small Gun - Southern Courier 6.2.90Presentation of small Gun,  Southern Courier, 6th February 1990. 

1988-89 – La Garone

La Garonne

(no 2007.2)

The modern Garonne is the twelfth vessel since the seventeeenth century to bear the name of  the river in south-western France. It is a travelling support vessel (‘bâtiment de soutien mobile’ or BSM) responsible for technical support to the French Navy overseas (displacement 2600 tonnes, length 101.5 m.).

It was launched on 8 August 1964 and was initially assigned to the Mururoa Nuclear Testing Base in the Pacific (1965–1973). It subsequently serviced other regions (ReunionIsland, the Persian Gulf, Martinique, the Indian Ocean), including New Caledonia in the late nineteen-eighties. It was decommissioned and sunk near ReunionIsland in 2003.

The most likely time of the Garonne’s visit to Sydney is 1988–1989, during its New Caledonian assignment, but at this stage we do not know the exact date.

For video on the Garonne, see:

1989 – Corvette Admiral  Charner

Corvette Admiral Charner

The ship was laid down at the arsenal in Lorient on 4 November 1958, and was launched on 12 March 1960. It entered service and was deployed to the Pacific on 14 December 1962. It was based at Papeete from 1963-1980. She returned to France each five years for hull-cleaning.

On 8 December 1972, it collided with a Japanese coastal steamer in Tomogashima Strait, Japan (coordinates: 34o16’60”N; 135o0’0”E). Fortunately no-one was hurt, but the ship had to spend more than four months being repaired in a naval dockyard in Kobe (Japan).

In 1980, it joined the French naval forces in the Indian Ocean, being based in Djibouti. In October 1987, she returned to the Pacific for three years, being based in Noumea. It was during the three years based in Noumea that she visited Sydney.

On 8 June 1990, she left Noumea for the last time and, via the Cape of Good Hope, returned to France, where she was withdrawn from service. She was refitted at the arsenal in Lorient and, on 28 January 1991, having been sold to Uruguay, she returned to service under Uruguyan colours as the Montevideo.


Dimensions: length overall: 102.70 m; breadth: 11.80 m; draught: 4.35 m

Displacement: 1960 tonnes (fully laden: 2170 tonnes)

Crew: 9 officers; 66 petty officers; 91 men.

Propulsion: 4 diesel engines driving 2 propellors.

Power: 16000 h.p.

Maximum speed: 26 knots

Range: 2300 nautical miles at 26 knots; 7500 nautical miles at 16.5 knots

Armament: 2 x 100 mm antiaircraft cannons; 2 x 40 mm antiaircraft cannons; 1 x 305 mm mortar; 4 x Exocet missiles; 6 torpedo tubes.

Admiral Léopold Victor CHARNER

Léopold CHARNER was the son a distiller of Swiss origin who had settled in Saint-Brieuc (Côtes d’Armor). He was born on 13 February 1797 and entered the Imperial Naval School (École Impériale de la Marine) in Toulon in February 1812. Appointed 1srt class midshipman at the beginning of 1815, he was promoted sub‑lieutenant in 1820 and then lieutenant in 1828. He carried out numerous expeditions including that to Algiers. He was awarded the croix de chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur for his services as second‑in‑command of the Artemise at the capture of Ancona (Italy) on 23 February 1832. He promoted lieutenant-commander and served as second‑in‑command of the frigate Belle Poule when this ship brought Napoleon’s ashes back to France from Saint Helena.

When a fire broke out in the powder magazine in Toulon in 1841, Charner’s cool head and admirable energy were instrumental in bringing the situation under control, and he was rewarded with the croix d’officier of the Légion d’Honneur and accelerated promotion to the rank of captain. He commanded in succession the frigate Sirène, the steamers L’Infernal and Gomer, and then the flagship Le Souverain.

After the revolution, in 1848, Charner was elected the representative of the people of the Côtes du Nord. He was promoted rear-admiral in 1852 and was initially chef de cabinet of the Navy Minister, Theodore Ducos, and was then appointed second‑in‑command of the Escadre de l’Océan. He left for the war in the Crimea on board the Napoleon and took part in the operations at Sebastopol and Yalta. He was promoted vice‑admiral in 1855 and appointed to command the French forces in Chinese waters. He was in charge of the landing of troops at Pei-Tang (1 August 1860) and it was due to his instructions that the Anglo-French naval forces took up positions that brought about the surrender of the Pei-Ho forts and the capture of Tientsin.

Scarcely had the peace treaty with the Chinese been signed than Charner, promoted grand croix of the Légion d’Honneur in February 1861, went to the rescue of French settlements in Cochin-China, where 20,000 Annamese, well armed and strongly entrenched, were threatening Saigon. He personally commanded the victorious assault by French sailors and soldiers against the lines of Ki-Hoa (25 February 1861), routed the enemy and, in 20 days, conquered the whole of the province of Saigon. A month later he occupied the province of My-Tho. During the following six months, Vice-Admiral Charner organized and maintained his positions with a greatly reduced force of 3,000 men. In November 1861, when he was recalled to France, the colony of Cochin-China was solidly based.

He was appointed a senator in 1862 and raised to the rank of Admiral of France (Amiral de France) in 1864. Admiral Charner died in Paris in 1869 and was buried in his birthplace, Saint-Brieuc

1990 – Corvette Commandant Birot

Corvette Commandant Birot

This Type A69 corvette was laid down at the DCN shipyards in Lorient on 23 March 1981. It was launched on 23 May 1982 and entered service on 14 March 1984.

Like her sister ships, the Commandant Birot was designed as an antisubmarine vessel for coastal antisubmarine duties in the eventuality of a Soviet submarine attack on the French coast. However, it became a ‘maid of all work’ in defending the maritime approaches of France, surveillance and escort duties.

In the beginning of its service, it was part of the Atlantic light forces flotilla and the 4th Corvette Division based at Brest, and, from July 1988, at Papeete.

She returned to Brest in October 1989 until June 1990 when she joined the Pacific Maritime Forces, based at Noumea, until December 1992.

She then returned to Brest where she joined the Submarine Action Group (Groupe d’Action Sous‑Marine), then, in January 1995, she was posted to Toulon. At first she was attached to the Mediterranean light forces flotilla which had both corvettes and mine hunters but, after the dissolution of the flotilla in June 2000, she became part of Naval Action Force (Force d’Action Navale).


Length: 80 m

Maximum width: 10.3 m

Maximum draught: 5.3 m

Displacement:  1100 tonnes

1350 tonnes (fully laden)

Crew: 7 officers, 60 petty officers, 30 sailors

Engines: 2 diesel engines, of 12,000 h.p.

Screws: 2 screws, with reversible blades

Speed: 23 knots

Range: 4,800 nm/9,000 km at 15 knots

3000 nm/5,500 km at 18 knots

Armament: 1 x 100mm antiaircraft cannon

2 x Mistral antiaircraft missiles

2 x 20mm Oerlikon antiaircraft cannons

4 x 12.7mm machineguns

4 x Exocet missiles

4 x torpedo tubes for antisubmarine torpedoes

The ship was named after Capitaine de frégate Roger BIROT

Roger BIROT was born on 29 August 1906 at Le Mans, and studied at the Prytanée militaire de La Flèche, before entering the École navale in October 1924. He was promoted Acting Sub-Lieutenant in October 1926  and served on board the torpedo boat Sénégalais  then on the corvette Ville d’Ys on the Newfoundland and Iceland Station.

He was promoted Sub-Lieutenant in October 1928 and was posted to the tanker Mekong at Cherbourg. In 1931 he was a pupil at the School for Signals Officers (École des Officiers de Transmissions) and was then posted to the torpedo boats Alcyon and Foudroyant where he spent 1932 and 1933. He was promoted Lieutenant in January 1933, and then became Signals Officer on the destroyers Guépard and

Jaguar (1933-1935), then on the training ship Jeanne d’Arc (1935-1937). In 1937 he was posted to the battleship Paris and, in 1939, to the destroyer Lion.

In September 1939, Birot commanded the Cancalaise and the 13th Auxiliary Patrol Boat Squadron with which he distinguished himself in the Dunkirk evacuations, for which he was cited on 31 May 1940 by Admiral Abrial. Commanding the patrol boat Nantaise in June, he was promoted Lieutenant Commander in July 1940. In November 1940, he joined Free France (Forces navales françaises libres; FNFL).

He was second-in-command of the battleship Courbet and then commander of the torpedo boat Bouclier, he was promoted Commander in October 1941. He stood by the fitting out of the Mimosa, the first corvette of the FNFL and commanded the French Atlantic corvette group, made up of Mimosa, Alysse and Aconit. For 14 months he carried out convoy protection in the Atlantic under particularly difficult conditions and, in December 1941, he played a major role in the persuading Saint-Pierre and Miquelon to join Free France. He was lost with his ship when it was torpedoed by the German submarine U‑124 on 9 June 1942.



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