Sister ship Le Hardi at anchor
Name: Casque
Namesake: Helmet
Ordered: 4 May 1936
Builder: Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, La Seyne-sur-Mer
Laid down: 30 November 1936
Launched: 2 November 1938
In service: 20 June 1940
Captured: 27 November 1942
Fate: Scuttled, 27 November 1942
General characteristics
Class and type: Le Hardi-class destroyer
Length: 117.2 m (384 ft 6 in) (o/a)
Beam: 11.1 m (36 ft 5 in)
Draft: 3.8 m (12 ft 6 in)
Installed power:
Speed: 37 knots (69 km/h; 43 mph)
Range: 3,100 nautical miles (5,700 km; 3,600 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 187 officers and enlisted men

The French destroyer Casque was one of a dozen Le Hardi-class destroyers built for the French Navy during the late 1930s. The ship was completed during the Battle of France in mid-1940 only days before the French signed an armistice with the Germans. When the Germans occupied Vichy France after the Allies landed in French North Africa in November 1942 and tried to seize the French fleet intact, the destroyer was one of the ships scuttled to prevent their capture. The Regia Marina (Royal Italian Navy) attempted to salvage her in 1943, but the effort was abandoned the following year. The ship was refloated in 1948 and scrapped.

Design and description

The Le Hardi class was designed to escort the fast battleships of the Dunkerque class and to counter the large destroyers of the Italian Navigatori and Japanese Fubuki classes.[1] The ships had an overall length of 117.2 meters (384 ft 6 in), a beam of 11.1 meters (36 ft 5 in),[2] and a draft of 3.8 meters (12 ft 6 in). The ships displaced 1,800 metric tons (1,772 long tons) at standard and 2,577 t (2,536 long tons) at deep load. They were powered by two geared steam turbines, each driving one propeller shaft, using steam provided by four Sural-Penhöet forced-circulation boilers. The turbines were designed to produce 58,000 metric horsepower (42,659 kW; 57,207 shp), which was intended to give the ships a maximum speed of 37 knots (69 km/h; 43 mph). Le Hardi, the only ship of the class to run sea trials, comfortably exceeded that speed during her trials on 6 November 1939, reaching a maximum speed of 39.1 knots (72.4 km/h; 45.0 mph) from 60,450 metric horsepower (44,461 kW; 59,623 shp). The ships carried 470 metric tons (463 long tons) of fuel oil which gave them a range of 3,100 nautical miles (5,700 km; 3,600 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). The crew consisted of 10 officers and 177 enlisted men.[3]

The main armament of the Le Hardi-class ships consisted of six Canon de 130 mm (5.1 in) Modèle 1932 guns in three twin mounts, one forward and a superfiring pair aft of the superstructure. Their anti-aircraft (AA) armament consisted of one twin mount for Canon de 37 mm (1.5 in) Modèle 1925 guns on the aft superstructure and two twin Hotchkiss 13.2 mm (0.5 in) AA machine gun mounts on the roof of the shell hoists for the forward 130 mm mount. The ships carried one triple and two twin sets of 550-millimeter (21.7 in) torpedo tubes; the aft mount could traverse to both sides, but the forward mounts were positioned one on each broadside. A pair of chutes were built into the stern that housed a dozen 200-kilogram (440 lb) depth charges.[4]


In late 1941 or early 1942, the twin Hotchkiss machine guns were repositioned on the quarterdeck and a pair of single mounts for 25 mm (1 in) Hotchkiss AA guns were installed in their place in front of the bridge. In addition a pair of single mounts for Browning 13.2-millimeter AA machine guns were added on platforms on the sides of the superfiring turret aft.[5]

Construction and career

Ordered on 4 May 1936, Casque was laid down by Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée at their shipyard in La Seyne-sur-Mer on 30 November 1936. She was launched on 2 November 1938 and entered service on 20 June 1940. That day the ship steamed for Oran, French Algeria. After the British attacked French Navy ships in nearby Mers-el-Kébir on 3 July, Casque joined the other destroyers in Oran in leaving that day for a safer port, but she had to return to Oran because she had damaged her propeller while getting underway. After repairs, the ship rendezvoused with her sister Le Corsaire and they reached Toulon on 7 July, at which time she was immediately placed in reserve.[6]

Casque was assigned to the Forces de haute mer (High Seas Forces) on 1 May 1942, replacing Le Hardi in the 10th DT (division de torpilleurs), although she was not ready for service until 1 July. When the Germans attempted to capture the French ships in Toulon intact on 27 November 1942, Casque was scuttled by her crew. The Italians attempted to salvage her, but the effort was abandoned after the ship was damaged during the Allied bombing raid on 29 April 1944; she was finally refloated in 1948 and scrapped.[7]


  1. ^ Jordan & Moulin, pp. 180–181
  2. ^ Chesneau, p. 270
  3. ^ Jordan & Moulin, pp. 180–186, 190
  4. ^ Jordan & Moulin, pp. 186–190
  5. ^ Jordan & Moulin, pp. 192–195
  6. ^ Jordan & Moulin, pp. 182, 231–233, 236
  7. ^ Jordan & Moulin, pp. 237, 248; Whitley, p. 52


  • Chesneau, Roger, ed. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7.
  • Jordan, John & Moulin, Jean (2015). French Destroyers: Torpilleurs d'Escadre & Contre-Torpilleurs 1922–1956. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-198-4.
  • Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-326-1.