Home Intro People Events Equipment Places Maps Books Photos Videos Other Reference FAQ About

World War II Database

Béarn file photo [16308]


Ship ClassBéarn-class Aircraft Carrier
BuilderSociété Nouvelle des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, La Seyne-sur-Mer, France
Laid Down10 Jan 1914
Commissioned27 May 1927
Displacement22,501 tons standard; 28,900 tons full
Length599 feet
Beam116 feet
Draft31 feet
MachineryTwo steam engines, two Parsons geared turbines, four shafts
Power Output22,500 shaft horsepower
Speed21 knots
Range7,000nm at 10 knots
Armament8x155mm guns, 6x75mm AA guns, 8x37mm AA guns (after 1935), 6x13.2mm machine guns (after 1935), 4x550mm torpedo tubes
Armor80mm main belt, 25mm flight deck


ww2dbaseLaunched in Apr 1920, carrier Béarn was not commissioned until May 1927. As the only French carrier, she was meant to be an experimental ship aboard which the French Navy would develop naval air doctrine. In 1935, her weaponry was modernized with the addition of 8 37-millimeter anti-aircraft guns and 6 13.2-millimeter anti-aircraft machine guns. Ultimately, French naval aviation did not progress as much as the navies of other powers, and Béarn remained in commission through the start of the European War. In the early months of the war, she was used to conduct carrier landing training operations for SB2U Vindicator dive bombers and other aircraft types. In May 1940, she embarked gold bullions from the French central bank and brought them out to sea, where the gold was transferred to light cruisers Jeanne d'Arc and Émile Bertin for the second leg of the journey to Canada. As she sailed on to American ports to pick up aircraft for the French Air Force, the French government surrendered, and Béarn was interned at Martinique by the United States to prevent German capture. She would remain on the side of the Allies for the remainder of the war, generally acting as an aircraft transport She remained the only carrier in French service until 1945 when France was given the British escort carrier HMS Biter (soon renamed Dixmude). In 1944, her weaponry was changed to 4 127-millimeter dual purpose guns, 24 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and 26 20-millimeter anti-aircraft cannon. Upon completion of this refitting, she was used to transport aircraft and as a training ship until 1948, followed by a few years as a submarine tender. Her final years of service saw her being a stationary hulk at Toulon in southern France. She was scrapped in Italy in 1967.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Oct 2012

Aircraft Carrier Béarn Interactive Map


Aircraft landing on Béarn, date unknownBéarn in port at Toulon, France, 1936
See all 18 photographs of Aircraft Carrier Béarn

Béarn Operational Timeline

20 Oct 1920 Paul Teste landed on Béarn, becoming the first French naval aviator to make a carrier landing.
27 May 1927 Thirteen years after its keel was laid down, the French aircraft carrier Béarn was completed. The Béarn would become the longest surviving aircraft carrier in the world (not being scrapped until 1968) although it spent much of its life out of commission.
25 May 1940 Béarn made rendezvous with light cruisers Jeanne d'Arc and Émile Bertin in the Atlantic Ocean and transferred French central bank gold bullions to the light cruisers, which would carry them to Canada.
21 Mar 1967 Béarn was struck from the French Navy list.

Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments


1. We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

2. For inquiries about military records for members of the World War II armed forces, please see our FAQ.

Change View
Desktop View

Search WW2DB
Aircraft Carrier Béarn Photo Gallery
Aircraft landing on Béarn, date unknownBéarn in port at Toulon, France, 1936
See all 18 photographs of Aircraft Carrier Béarn

Famous WW2 Quote
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years."

James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945

Support Us

Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!

Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!