Coming to you live from the French aircraft carrier Foch, where I am 3 under par…

A Vought F-8 Crusader lines up for landing on the French aircraft carrier Foch (R99). Date and location unknown

The German daily Bild recently reported that entrepreneur Udo Stern, a former member of the Lufthansa board, is passing around the idea that the retired French aircraft carrier Foch be brought back to Europe and turned into a luxury hotel resort.

Some details provided would be to turn the hangar deck into a series of concert halls, cinemas, a casino, and restaurants. Meanwhile, the 55 former staterooms in officer country would be remodeled into themed hotel rooms. On her flight deck, a golf course in summer and a ski slope in winter are also on the program.

It is not so far-fetched as several Russian carriers were bought for such a purpose in China, and at least one is still there as such.

Completed in the 1960s as the second of the Clemenceau-class light carriers by the French, the 869-foot/32,000-ton Foch remained in nominal NATO service until 2000, with an airwing of F8 Crusaders, Super Étendard, pregnant-looking Br.1050 Alizé sub-busters, and Dauphin Pedro/ Super Frelon helicopters. Her combat record included the Bosnian conflict and mixing it up with Yemeni MiGs off Djibouti in 1977. 

Sold to Brazil for $12 million to replace their aging British light carrier Minas Gerais (ex-HMS Vengence), she served there as NAe São Paulo with an airwing of A-4 Skyhawks until a fire sidelined her in 2017. At the time, she was the last CATOBAR carrier operated by a country other than France or the U.S. 

Navio Aeródromo São Paulo (A12) carrier, ex-Foch via Marinha do Brasil

Put up for sale since 2019, she was finally sold for scrap earlier this year at a $1.2 million price tag, but the breaker has apparently not come through with a check yet.

Of course, to U.S. readers, Foch is probably remembered most from its brief mention in Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising— where she was sunk by Soviet Backfires– and the two-minute opening scene of the 1995 submarine film Crimson Tide where veteran newsman Richard Valeriani portrayed himself as a reporter for CNN from the deck of the French carrier, complete with Super Etendards catapulting from her deck.

Ironically, should Foch somehow make it Hamburg, she’ll finally be Germany’s first aircraft carrier, of sorts, as KMS Graf Zeppelin never got operational.

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