French aircraft carrier Clemenceau (R98)

Name: Clemenceau
Namesake: Georges Clemenceau
Builder: Brest shipyard
Laid down: November 1955
Launched: 21 December 1957
Commissioned: 22 November 1961
Decommissioned: 1 October 1997
Homeport: Brest
Identification: R98
Nickname(s): "Clem"
Fate: Scrapped 2009-2010
General characteristics
Class and type: Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier
  • 22,000 tons (standard)
  • 32,780 tons (loaded)
Length: 265 m (869 ft)
Beam: 51.2 m (168 ft)
Draught: 8.6 m (28 ft)
Installed power:
  • 6 Indret boilers
  • 126,000 shp (94,000 kW)
Propulsion: 4 steam turbines
Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)
Capacity: 582 air group personnel
  • 1,338 (aircraft carrier)
  • 984 (helicopter carrier)
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • 1 DRBV-23B air sentry radar
  • 1 DRBV-50 low altitude or surface sentry radar (later replaced by a DRBV-15)
  • 1 NRBA-50 approach radar
  • 2 DRBI-10 tri-dimensional air sentry radar
  • Multiple DRBN-34 navigation radars
  • Multiple DRBC-31 fire direction radars (later replaced by DRBC-32C radars)
Aircraft carried:

Clemenceau, often affectionately called "le Clem", was the French Navy's sixth aircraft carrier and the lead ship of her class. She served from 1961 to 1997. She was the second French warship to be named after Georges Clemenceau, the first being a Richelieu-class battleship laid down in 1939 but never finished. She was dismantled and recycled in 2009.[1][2]

The Clemenceau-class aircraft carriers are of conventional CATOBAR design. The landing area is 165.5 m (543 ft) long by 29.5 m (97 ft) wide; it is angled at 8 degrees off of the ship's axis. The flight deck is 265 m (869 ft) long. The forward aircraft elevator is to starboard, and the rear elevator is positioned on the deck edge to save hangar space. The forward of two 52 m (171 ft) catapults is at the bow to port, the aft catapult is on the angled landing deck. The hangar deck dimensions are 152 m (499 ft) by 22 m (72 ft)-24 m (79 ft) with 7 m (23 ft) overhead.[3]


The development of Clemenceau represented France's effort to produce its own class of multi-role aircraft carriers to replace the American and British ships provided at the end of World War II. The ship was a small but effective design, using elements of United States carrier design, but to a smaller scale. The vessels were given relatively heavy gun armament for their size, and some stability problems were encountered which required bulging the hull.

Clemenceau went through a major refit from September 1977 to November 1978. She was again refitted with new defensive systems from 1 September 1985 to 31 August 1987, including replacement of four of the 100 mm guns with a pair of Crotale surface-to-air missile launchers.

Clemenceau and her sister ship Foch served as the mainstays of the French fleet. During her career, Clemenceau sailed more than 1,000,000 nautical miles (2,000,000 km; 1,000,000 mi) in 3,125 days at sea, all over the world.


In 1967 Clemenceau participated in the search for the lost submarine Minerve in the Mediterranean when contact was lost 25 nautical miles (46 km; 29 mi) from returning to port at Toulon.[4] To this day no trace of Minerve has been found.[4]

In 1968 the carrier deployed to the south Pacific for French nuclear bomb testing in Polynesia including Canopus, the first French hydrogen bomb. With the deployment of the fleet, codenamed Alfa Force, the naval force present around two atolls represented more than 40% of the tonnage of the entire French navy. Clemenceau was flagship of a fleet composed of forty ships which massed more than 120,000 tons displacement.[5]

In 1974 during the Independence of Djibouti, Clemenceau deployed off the African coast in the Indian Ocean.

During the 1982–1984 Lebanese Civil War the aircraft carrier deployed in the east Mediterranean where she rotated with Foch, providing constant on-station air support to French peacekeepers.[3]

In 1987–1988 Clemenceau participated in Operation Prométhée. The ship received orders to position in the Gulf of Oman and to protect French merchant traffic in the Persian Gulf from Iranian speedboats during Iran–Iraq War. She arrived in the area on 15 August 1987. An Iranian P-3 Orion was intercepted by F-8 Crusaders deployed from this ship on a Combat Air Patrol. The Promethee battle force (Task Force 623), included Clémenceau, the mine countermeasures support ship Loire, and Durance-class tankers Meuse,Var, and Marne.

A Super Étendard and a Crusader aboard Clemenceau in 1988

In 1990, the ship, escorted by the cruiser Colbert and the tanker Var, transported 40 helicopters (SA-341F/ -342 Gazelles, SA-330 Pumas), three Br-1050 Alizés and trucks to Iraq during Operations 'Desert Shield & Desert Storm'.[6]

Between 1993 and 1996 Clemenceau completed several tours including combat operations and air patrol over the former Yugoslavia [7] during operation 'Balbuzard' to support the UN's troops.


On 31 December 2005, Clemenceau left Toulon to be dismantled in Alang, India despite protests over improper disposal capabilities and facilities for the toxic wastes. On 6 January 2006 the Supreme Court of India temporarily denied access to Alang.[8] After having been boarded by activists, held by Egyptian authorities, and then transiting the Suez Canal on 15 January, a court ruling by the Conseil d'État ordered Clemenceau to return to French waters.[9] Able UK based at its Greythorpe yard near Hartlepool received a new disassembly contract to use accepted practices in scrapping the ship.[10][11] The dismantling started on 18 November 2009 and the break-up was completed by the end of 2010.

General arrangement

1 : 100mm cannon ; 2 : Weapons control radar type DRBC-31 ; 3 : Aircraft lift ; 4 : 15 tonne crane ; 5 : Aircraft approach radar type NRBA-50 ; 6 : Altitude radar type DRBI-10 ; 7 : Funnel ; 8 : Proximity radar type DRBV-20 ; 9 : TACAN Antenna; 10 : Combined low altitude and surface-to-air radar type DRBV-50 ; 11 : Proximity radar type DRBV-23 ; 12 : Altitude radar type DRBI-10 ; 13 : Weapons control radar type DRBC-31

Notes and references

  1. "New ghost ship heads to Teesside". BBC News. 8 February 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2009.
  2. "Ghost ships work completed". Hartlepool Mail. 20 January 2011. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  3. 1 2 "Clemenceau". 10 June 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  4. 1 2 Roche, Jean-Michel (2012). "Historique du sous-marin Minerve". (in French). Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  5. Roche, Jean-Michel. "La Marine à Mururoa". (in French). Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  6. "Porte-avions Clemenceau". (in French). 19 February 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  7. History of the CV Clemenceau
  8. Zubair Ahmed (2006-01-06). "Stay out, India tells toxic ship". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
  9. "Chirac orders 'toxic' ship home". BBC News. 2006-01-16. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
  10. "Praise for 'toxic' ship scrapping". BBC News Online. 4 January 2010. The dismantling of the former Clemenceau is a positive and pioneering operation in Europe
  11. "Ghost ship arrives in north-east". BBC News. 2009-02-08. Retrieved 2009-03-05.

See also

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