Tag Archives: Foch carrier

Clemenceau and Clemenceau, in a way, ~40 Years Apart

Here we see the current flagship of the French Navy, the nuclear-powered carrier Charles de Gaulle, and her strike group in the Mediterranean including Horizon-class air defense frigate Forbin, Aquitaine-class FREMMs Normandie, and Alsace; Durance-class tanker Marne, Greek HS Hydra, and the Burke USS Ross. The CSG is on its “Clemenceau 22” deployment.

Now rewind the clock to 1983, and we see the smaller conventionally powered Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier Foch with Super Etendards and Atlantiques on deck, along with her escorts in the Mediterranean. These include two Tourville-class ASW frigates (Aconit and Duguay Trouin), two George Leygues-class ASW frigates, two Durance-class tankers (some things never change), the missile cruiser Colbert, and the destroyer Du Chalya (D630).

And yes, De Gaulle has the characteristic delta wing arrow on her deck as well, as seen in this great shot from a Dassault Rafale.

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.

Want to buy a flattop?

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

Built in the 1960s as the second of the Clemenceau-class light carriers by the French, the Foch remained in nominal NATO service until 2000, even appearing in a cameo in the opening of the film Crimson Tide, before moving to Latin America. She is now for sale, after lackluster service with Brazil.

As noted by Joe Travenik over at The Drive, the Brazilians have placed their Cold War-era French-built light carrier, the ex-São Paulo, up for sale with bids starting at $1.275 million:

Originally commissioned in the French Navy as the Foch in 1963, she was the second of two Clemenceau class aircraft carriers and remained in service in France until 2000. Brazil purchased the ship that same year for the bargain price of $12 million. At the time of São Paulo‘s retirement, there were only two other countries in the world, the United States and France, still operating catapult-assisted takeoff and barrier assisted recovery (CATOBAR) configured aircraft carriers.

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