Ship Type Menu.
Corvettes de charge (Transports after 1844)

MEUSE class (800 ton corvettes de charge, later transports)
MOSELLE class (600 ton transports)

MEUSE class corvettes de charge/transports (800 tons)

Displacement: 1347t
Dimensions:142ft 7in wl, 144ft 8in deck x 34ft 1in mld, 35ft 1in ext x 16ft 1in mean, 17ft 6in max. Depth 18ft 8in
Same, meters:43.30, 44.10 x 10.40, 10.70 x 4.90, 5.345m. 5.70m
Masts:Sail area 1674 sq.yd.
Armament:(1820) 24-24p carr., 2-18p; (1824) 20-24p carr., 2-8p; (1837) 18-24p carr., 4-30p shell. (Seine) 22-30 shell, 4-8p. When used exclusively as transports they could carry as few as 2-12p.

Name          Builder    Laid downLaunched Commiss. Fate         
MEUSECherbourg5.244.5.2517.4.26Stk. 1836
OISEToulon5.2431.5.2516.2.26Stk. 2.4.63
MARNEToulon6.2529.5.2627.6.26Lost 25.1.41
CARAVANEToulon6.2617.1.2822.3.28Stk. 29.10.64
NIEVREBrest7.2612. 8.8.38
ALLIERBrest20.7.2621.10.2810.2.29Stk. 21.1.56
DORDOGNEBayonne9. 1844
AGATHEBrest2. 1.1.56
EGERIEBayonne2.12.2810.10.329.8.33Stk. 17.8.69
FORTUNEToulon4.291.5.3210.1.33Stk. 17.8.69
ISERELorient6.2911.7.321.2.35Stk. 2.12.48
AUBESt. Servain182913.9.324.2.36Stk. 6.9.52
SOMMECherbourg4.3829.8.4026.8.41Stk. 1851
RHINRochefort15.4.4021.5.411.8.41Stk. 30.12.54
MEURTHELorient12.5.402.11.4218.11.42Stk. 6.9.52
SEINERochefort26.5.4221.2.451.3.45Lost 4.7.46
(MEUSE)Rochefort------To 600 tons 1843
(RHONE)Cherbourg------To 600 tons 1843
(MOSELLE)Brest------To 600 tons 1843

Class. This class was a continuation of the standard 800-ton design that dated back to the Normande designed by Forfait in 1788. It was one of three exceptionally long-lived designs in the French Navy, the others being 74 gun ships of the line and 18-pdr. frigates. The plans of Oise, Allier, Caravane, Agathe, Rhin, Meurthe, and Fortune were attributed to Forfait ("Normande type"), while Aube was built to new plans (probably a minor update of Forfait's plans) signed by Rolland on 27.3.29. The order for Allier was transferred from Cherbourg to Brest in 1826 and the order for Aube was shifted from Brest to St. Servain in 1828 before construction began. Agathe, Egérie, and Fortune, originally Saône, Lozère, and Var respectively were renamed in 1834 (or on 20.4.33 for Agathe). Somme, Rhin, Meurthe, and Seine were reclassified 24-gun spardeck corvettes in 1846. Rhin and Meurthe were reclassified "corvettes à batterie barbette" in 1849 and they and Somme reverted to transports in 1850. The captured British frigate Proserpine was also classified as an 800-ton corvette de charge after her conversion in 1840. In late 1844 the Navy's senior naval constructor, Boucher, noted that this type was designed for both transport and combat duty and, while very useful on overseas stations in peacetime, could not defend itself against smaller but faster combatant ships (like large brigs) and, despite its 800-ton rating, could carry only around 300 tons as a transport when carrying its full armament.

Disposals. Oise replaced Adour as hospital ship at Gabon in 1854 and was beached and destroyed there in March 1863. Marne was wrecked at Stora, Algeria, in a storm on 25.1.41. Allier became a boys' training ship at Algiers and was renamed Dragon in 1866 and disposed of in 1869. Agathe became a barracks and hospital hulk at Toulon in 1851 and was scrapped in 1874-76. Egérie was a supply hulk at Valparaiso until scrapped in 1873. Fortune was stricken at Montevideo and was retained as a supply hulk ("ponton-magasin") there until 1872. Isère was a guard hulk ("corps de garde") at Brest until 1865. Rhin became the service craft Depot No. 1 at Toulon. Seine was wrecked in the port of Balade, New Caledonia.

Note on Cancelled Corvettes de Charge and Gabarres. At the end of 1842 the Minister of Marine planned to use corvettes de charge and large gabarres not only to transport troops but also to carry all stores and munitions to France's colonies and overseas stations. In the budget for 1844 (prepared in late 1842) he therefore provided for two new 800-ton corvettes de charge (Meuse and Rhone) and two new 380-ton gabarres (Durance, and Garonne) to begin construction in 1843 and included beginning in 1844 one more 800-ton ship (Moselle), two 600-ton gabarres (Lozère and Vigogne), and two more 380-tonners (Providence and Rance). In the 1845 budget, drafted at the end of 1843, all three new 800-ton corvettes de charge plus the 380-ton Durance were listed as 600-ton gabarres while the remaining three 380-tonners became 360 ton gabarres. No details of the new 600 and 360 ton types have been found, but it seems most likely that the 600 ton ships were to have been of the Perdrix class or similar to it, while the 360-ton type was a minor adjustment of the 380-ton design. Under the 1845 budget the 600-ton Rhone, Moselle, Durance, Lozère, and and Vigogne and the 360-ton Providence were to be begun in 1844 while the 600-ton Meuse and 360-ton Garonne and Rance were to commence construction in 1845, for a total of nine new transport-type ships in two years.

In the meantime a new Minister of Marine had taken office in July 1843, and in early 1844 he faced a budget crisis with political implications when work on new construction authorized by the legislature fell severely behind schedule because of the diversion of funds to operational and maintenance work. By June 1844 the Minister, with the concurrence of the legislature, had decided to charter out the transportation of stores and munitions to the colonies and overseas stations. This made the new ships unnecessary, and the Director of Ports therefore recommended on 24.6.44 that the laying down of new corvettes de charge and gabarres be cancelled and that resources be used for more useful ship types, notably steamers. On 21.10.44 he noted that the Navy still had too many transports and recommended that the nine newest 800-ton corvettes de charge and the seven newest 380-ton gabarres be armed and fitted as combatant ships. (In the event, only the four most recent corvettes de charge and all 11 remaining 380-ton gabarres were reclassified.) He pointed out that this recommendation would lead to the abolition of corvettes de charge and 380-ton gabarres as ship types and, since this contradicted earlier directives, he recommended submitting the matter to the Navy's highest advisory board, the Council of Admiralty. The Council approved the conversion of the existing ships but was reluctant to renounce in an absolute manner the construction of types known to have good qualities before ships of the proposed new types were built and tested. In the event, no replacement design was prepared for the 380-ton gabarres, and the ships begun in 1847 as 600 ton transports, the Moselle class, turned out to be updated copies of the 800-ton corvettes de charge. During 1845, however, all corvettes de charge and gabarres not converted to combatant ships were redesignated transports, possibly in part because the designation "gabarres" had prompted numerous criticisms in the legislature.

MOSELLE class transports (600, later 800 tons)

Displacement: 1250 (Moselle), 1340 (Durance)
Dimensions:144ft 8in deck x 34ft 1in mld x 15ft 4in (16ft 0in in Durance)
Same, meters:44.10 x 10.40 x 4.68 (4.87)
Armament:(Durance) 18-24p carr., 2-12p., later 14-30p shell (Moselle) 18-24p carr., 4-30p.

Name          Builder    Laid downLaunched Commiss. Fate         
MOSELLEBordeaux15.7.4729.7.483.6.51Stk. 22.7.56
DURANCENantes7.4727.9.486.7.49Stk. 12.4.54
LYBIO(contract)------Canc. 1849
GIRONDE(contract)------Canc. 1849

Class. The plans for Moselle and Durance, labeled 800-ton corvettes de charge, were approved by the Minister of Marine in April 1847. The ships were listed as 600-ton transports when scheduled for construction in 1847 and while under construction in early 1848, but the two ships that were built were soon re-rated 800-ton transports. They were built to the plans of Forfait as modified by J.-L. Bonard, suggesting that they were very similar to the earlier 800-ton corvettes de charge. All four ships were to be built by contractors, although the last two were never ordered. Durance was built by Guibert at Nantes under a contract dated 12.4.47 and Moselle was built by Chaigneau & Bichon. Durance was reclassified a 24-gun corvette in 1849, a 14-gun corvette in 1850, and a transport in 1851. She was stricken in 1854 because her hull was found to be rotten and she needed a refit of 18/24 of her structure. Moselle, completed later, served as a transport throughout her equally short career.

Disposals. Moselle became a hulk at Tahiti in 1856. Durance was sent to Cayenne in 1854 as the hulk Guardien and was a hulk there until 1862.

Copyright © Stephen S. Roberts 2009-2015.