Welcome back, Suffren
To students of naval history, the name “Suffren” is quick to jog memories.
An homage to Admiral Comte Pierre André de Suffren, an 18th-century hero who doggedly fought the Royal Navy from the East Indies to the West Indies and off the coast of North America during the Seven Years War and later the American Revolution, more than a half-dozen French ships have carried his name.
These included the 74-gun ship of the line that tangled with HMS Victory directly at Trafalgar, an event that led to Nelson’s death; the early and somewhat innovative central battery ironclad of the late 19th Century; a Great War-era République-class pre-dreadnought that covered the withdrawal from the Dardanelles in 1915 with her 12-inch guns only to be sunk by a German U-boat the next winter; the lead-ship of a four-vessel class of heavy cruisers that saw combat in WWII; and the lead ship of a class of guided-missile destroyers that served during the Cold War.
The WWII-era Suffren, a handsome 12,000-ton CA, survived WWII in Free French service and went on to serve off Indochina and elsewhere, only heading to the breakers in 1974.
Earlier this month, the eighth Suffren, a brand new Barracuda-class submarine (Q284), was launched. The name is, once again, set aside for the first ship of her class.