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Danton was a pre-dreadnought battleship of the French Navy and the lead ship of her class. She was a technological leap in battleship development for the French Navy, as she was the first ship in the fleet with turbine engines. However, like all battleships of her type, she was completed after the Royal Navy battleship , and as such she was outclassed before she was even commissioned.

During her career Danton was sent to Great Britainmarker to honor the coronation of George V, and later served in World War I as an escort for supply ships and troop transport, guarding them from elements of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. She was also assigned to help keep the Yavuz Sultan Selim, a nominally Turkishmarker but de facto German battlecruiser, out of the Mediterranean Seamarker.

While en route to aid a blockade she was torpedoed and sunk on 19 March 1917 by a Germanmarker U-boat, leaving 296 men dead. The location of the wreck remained a mystery until an underwater survey team inadvertently discovered the battleship in December 2007. In February 2009, the wreck was confirmed to be Danton. The ship is in remarkably good shape for her age. Danton rests upright on the ocean floor, and most of the original equipment is reported to be intact.

Design

Although the s were "a major step forward" from the preceding , especially with the 3,000-ton displacement increase, they were outclassed by the advent of the dreadnought well before they were completed. This, combined with other poor traits, including the great weight in coal they had to carry, made them rather unsuccessful ships, though their rapid-firing guns were of some use in the Mediterranean.Gardiner and Gray, p. 196

Service

Danton underway
In May 1909, at the launching ceremony for Danton, socialist activists prevented the ship from leaving the stocks. The ship was eventually launched on 4 July 1909. A week after she was completed, she was sent to the United Kingdommarker in honour of the Coronation of George V in 1911. Upon her return to France, Danton was assigned to the First Squadron, along with her sister ships and the two powerful dreadnoughts Courbet and Jean Bart. In 1913, while off Hyèresmarker in the Mediterranean, Danton suffered an explosion in one of her gun turrets, which killed three men and injured several others.

Danton served in World War I in the French Mediterranean Fleet, helping to protect French troop and supply ships from attack by the Austro-Hungarian Navy. She also helped to keep the Turkish battlecruiser TCG Yavuz Sultan Selim bottled up in the Black Seamarker.

Sinking

Danton, commanded by Captain Delage, was torpedoed by U-64, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Robert Moraht, at 13:17 on 19 March 1917 south-west of Sardinia. The battleship was returning to duty from a refit in Toulonmarker and was bound for the Greek island of Corfumarker to join the Allied blockade of the Strait of Otrantomarker. Danton was carrying more men than normal as many were crew members of other ships at Corfu, and had been zig-zagging to foil enemy submarines. The ship sank in 45 minutes; 806 men were rescued by the destroyer Massue and nearby patrol boats, but 296 including Captain Delage went down with the ship. U-64 survived a counterattack and escaped.

Discovery

 In February 2009, it was made public that in late 2007 the wreck of the ship was discovered "in remarkable condition" during an underwater survey between Italy and Algeria for the GALSI gas pipeline. The wreck lies at  , a few kilometres away from where it had been thought she sank, sitting upright with many of its gun turrets intact at a depth of over  .


Footnotes

  1. Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers, p. 1010
  2. Goldstein and Avery, p. 166
  3. New International Encyclopedia, p. 148
  4. The American Library Annual, p. 27


References



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