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|Laid down:||November 1955|
|Launched:||21 December 1957|
|Commissioned:||22 November 1961|
|Decommissioned:||1 October 1997|
|Class and type:||Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier|
|Length:||265 m (869 ft)|
|Beam:||51.2 m (168 ft)|
|Draught:||8.6 m (28 ft)|
|Propulsion:||4 steam turbines|
|Speed:||32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)|
|Capacity:||582 air group personnel|
Clemenceau (French pronunciation: [klemɑ̃so]), often affectionately called le Clem, was the French Navy's sixth aircraft carrier and the lead ship of her class. The carrier served from 1961 to 1997, and was dismantled and recycled in 2009. The carrier was the second French warship to be named after Georges Clemenceau, the first being a Richelieu-class battleship laid down in 1939 but never finished.
The Clemenceau-class aircraft carriers are of conventional CATOBAR design. The landing area is 165.5 m (543 ft) long by 29.5 m (97 ft) wide; it is angled at 8 degrees off of the ship's axis. The flight deck is 265 m (869 ft) long. The forward aircraft elevator is to starboard, and the rear elevator is positioned on the deck edge to save hangar space. The forward of two 52 m (171 ft) catapults is at the bow to port, the aft catapult is on the angled landing deck. The hangar deck dimensions are 152 m (499 ft) by 22 m (72 ft)-24 m (79 ft) with 7 m (23 ft) overhead.
The development of Clemenceau represented France's effort to produce its own class of multi-role aircraft carriers to replace the American and British ships provided at the end of World War II. The ship was a small but effective design, using elements of United States carrier design, but to a smaller scale. The vessels were given relatively heavy gun armament for their size, and some stability problems were encountered which required bulging the hull.
Clemenceau went through a major refit from September 1977 to November 1978. She was again refitted with new defensive systems from 1 September 1985 to 31 August 1987, including replacement of four of the 100 mm guns with a pair of Crotale surface-to-air missile launchers.
Clemenceau and her sister ship Foch served as the mainstays of the French fleet. During the carrier's career, Clemenceau sailed more than 1,000,000 nautical miles (1,900,000 km; 1,200,000 mi) in 3,125 days at sea, all over the world.
Since January 12 1962, Clemenceau participated until February 5 to the NATO exercise BigGame, with the United States Sixth Fleet (aircraft carriers USS Saratoga (CV-3), USS Intrepid (CV-11)), in the Occidental Mediterranean, as an anti-submarine aircraft carrier, then the carrier hooked on, March 9 to April 2, with NATO exercise OTAN Dawn Breeze VII, in the Gibraltar zone.
Throughout the course of the aircraft carrier's lengthy career, the carrier participated to the majority of French naval operations:
During the same year, the carrier deployed to the south Pacific for French nuclear bomb testing in Polynesia including Canopus, the first French hydrogen bomb. With the deployment of the fleet, codenamed Alfa Force (French: Force Alfa), the naval force present around two atolls represented more than 40% of the tonnage of the entire French navy. Clemenceau was flagship of a fleet composed of forty ships which massed more than 120,000 tons displacement.
Between 1959 and 1997, the Clemenceau has undergone similarly with the twin aircraft carrier Foch several modifications. Particularly:
Clemenceau has navigated in all world Oceans and Seas with a career total of more than one million nautical miles, the equivalent of circumnavigating the globe 48 times. Accordingly, the carrier has passed 3,125 days at sea, with 80,000 hours of functioning and would have conducted more than 70,000 catapult-launches.
In 1983, the bâtiment would the be the first unit of the French Navy to embark female personnel. Three women were assigned on board : one maître principal, one secrétaire militaire and one premier maître.
Loyal to the tradition of the French Navy, Clemencau welcomed on board for a couple of tours, some for a week and other for a couple of months, numerous painting artists.
On 31 December 2005, Clemenceau left Toulon to be dismantled in Alang, India despite protests over improper disposal capabilities and facilities for the toxic wastes. On 6 January 2006 the Supreme Court of India temporarily denied access to Alang. After having been boarded by activists, held by Egyptian authorities, and then transiting the Suez Canal on 15 January, a court ruling by the Conseil d'État ordered Clemenceau to return to French waters. Able UK based at its Graythorp yard near Hartlepool received a new disassembly contract to use accepted practices in scrapping the ship. The dismantling started on 18 November 2009 and the break-up was completed by the end of 2010.
The dismantling of the former Clemenceau is a positive and pioneering operation in Europe
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