Built very secretly and launched at Cherbourg
Arsenal on November 18th, 1929, the submarine named
“Surcouf” was a new type of submarine cruiser, the biggest at the time
(with a 110-m length and 2880 tons surface displacement). The ship
included a gun turret with two 203-mm cannons, and a shelter for an
hydroplane. The construction was however difficult, and the reliability
was controversial, as a result the submarine stayed a unique model.
In 1940, the “Surcouf” joined the “Forces
Navales Françaises Libres”, and became their symbol, but tragically
disappeared in the Caribbean Sea on February 19th, 1942.
According to the official thesis, there was a collision with an American
cargo, but an investigation held by the US Navy Court of Inquiry revealed
later that the submarine was - by mistake - attacked and sunk by US Air
Force bomber aircraft.
A monument in memory of the lost crew was built in
the naval port of Cherbourg.