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French submarine Casabianca (Q183)

Namesake: Luc-Julien-Joseph Casabianca
Ordered: June 1, 1925
Laid down: March 7, 1931
Launched: February 2, 1935
Commissioned: January 1, 1937
Struck: 12 February 1952
Homeport: Toulon
Nickname(s): Casabianca
Fate: scrapped in 1956
General characteristics
Class and type: 1500 tons class submarine
  • 1500 tonnes (surfaced)
  • 2000 tonnes (submerged)
Length: 92.30 m (302.8 ft)
  • 2 diesels, of 4,300 hp
  • 2 electric engines of 1,200 hp
  • 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) (surfaced)
  • 10 knots (submerged)
  • 14,000 nautical miles (26,000 km) at 7 knots (13 km/h; 8 mph),
  • 10,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) at 10 knots (20 km/h; 10 mph)
  • 4,000 nautical miles (7,000 km) at 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph)
  • 90 nautical miles (170 km) at 7 knots (submerged)
Test depth: 80 meters
  • 5 officers (6 in operations)
  • 79 men
  • 11 torpedo tubes
  • 1 × 100 mm gun
  • 1 × 13.2 mm machine gun

Le Casabianca (Q183) was a (French: Le Casabianca) was a 1500-ton class submarine of the French Navy dits «de grande patrouille», named in honour of Luc-Julien-Joseph Casabianca. The boat was launched in 1935 and entered service in 1936. The boat remained famous for making way out of Toulon during the scuttling of the fleet on November 27, 1942 in order to continue combats along with the Allies. The boat illustrated capability during the Liberation of Corsica (French: libération de l'île) under the orders of Capitaine de frégate Jean l'Herminier. The boast ensured the liaison between occupied France and the état major of combatant France based in Algiers.

The boat is one out of 5 submarines of this class, out of thirty one, to survive the Second World War.[a]


The boat was initially suppose to be namesake « Casablanca ». François Piétri, then minister of the navy, who was Corsican, was astonished that the glorious Corsican Marin Casabianca would not be held by any naval vessel of the French Navy. Accordingly, the « Casablanca » was replaced with « Casabianca » prior to the launching.

In December 1939, the boat escorted convoy HX 11 (French: convoi HX 11).

On November 27, 1942, while the annexation of the free zone by the Germans would lead to the scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon to avoid for the latter of falling into then hands of the Germans, Capitaine de corvette Jean L'Herminier, Commandant of the « Casabianca », preferred to get functional and along with the accords of his officers and crew who desired to continue the fight with the Allies, he decided to make way to Algiers. During the voyage, the boat was attacked by German war planes and was worried by the presence of a Royal Navy destroyer. Along with the five submarines which made way out of the scuttling with the Casabianca, two others, Le Glorieux (French: Le Glorieux) and Le Marsouin continued to be combat engaged alongside the Allies.

Le Casabianca in the original state prior to the boat's modernization in the United States.

Arrived in Algiers, Le Casabianca was found under the orders of admiral Darlan until the assassination of the latter, on December 24, 1942. Accordingly, then, Le Casabianca passed under orders of général Henri Giraud, until the latter was definitely evinced by général de Gaulle.

When the boat participated to the Liberation of Corsica (French: libération de l'île), the boat was under the orders of général Giraud, military chief of the unified armed forces of France. The realization of the operation was one of the pretexts which led to the eviction of général Giraud, the latter first asking the accord of the political authority, which meant that of de Gaulle.

Le Casabianca served in principal mission of intelligence gathering and supply of arms and delivering men, missions often perilous and at the profit of Corsican Maquisards. The role of Le Casabianca was determinant in the liberation of île on September 1943.[1] The boat's elusiveness earned the nickname "Ghost Submarine" by the adversary.

The British conservative MP Keith Monin Stainton served as a liaison officer aboard the submarine in 1943, whilst a Royal Navy lieutenant.[2] From 1943 until 1944 Charles William Beattie, a Royal Navy Signals specialist also served on board Casabianca to safeguard and interpret secret cyphers sent to the boat whilst out on station, bravely taking part in many of the secret landings under the noses of the enemy on the shores of Corsica.

In the boat's last mission, Casabianca landed a hundred and nine men of the elite forces (achieving a record for a submarine of such a displacement in the process). The men were landed on an isolated beach at Arone near the village of Piana in the North West of Corsica. A monument exists there now.

After the Liberation of Corsica (French: libération de l'île), the Casabianca was used for regular patrols. In 1944, the boat was hit in a friendly fire accident by a British plane, and had to refit in Philadelphia until March 1945. Alike with the couple of 1500 tons submarines which were modernized in the United States, the original conning tower was considerably modified. Two radars were installed as well as a platform on the front, while supporting the 20 mm anti-aerial cannon. The two raised periscopes and this cannon are visible on the monument Casabianca, however, the conning tower was truncated from the rear where a second 20mm cannon was replaced by a 13.2 double machine gun of French origins.

The submarine was scrapped in 1956, but the conning tower survives — since 2004, it has been on display in Bastia near the harbour.[3]


During the boat's career, Le Casabianca is not limited to the following :

  • 1 warship sunk by torpedo
  • 1 warship sunk by gun
  • 1 merchantman hit by torpedo
  • 7 secret missions
  • Liberation of Corsica (French: libération de l'île)
  • Ran a German blockade of Toulon during defection


Cited 7 times out of which 6 at the orders of the navy, the submarine Casabianca was decorated with Croix de guerre 1939–1945 and arbored the Red Fourragere of the Légion d'honneur of which the nuclear attack submarine Casabianca (S 603) perpetuates the memory.

The last of the Casabiancas

A Squadron Escorteur reformed in an anti-submarine Escorteur carried the namesake Casabianca from 1957 until 1984.

The French Navy's Rubis nuclear class submarine Casabianca (S 603) was named after the submarine.

Casabianca in popular culture

The submarine's exploits were used as the basis for the 1951 film Casabianca, starring Pierre Dudan and Jean Vilar.

The Casabianca also played a prominent role in the 2007 novel The Double Agents, book five of the Men At War series by W.E.B. Griffin. Specifically, the insertion of Allied agents into Sicily and subsequent sinking of a German E-Boat and cargo ship.

See also


History of Le Casabianca
  • Jean L'Herminier, Casabianca, Éditions France-Empire, first year edition 1953, year 1992, ISBN 978-2-7048-0704-8
  • Toussaint Griffi, Laurent Preziosi, Première mission en Corse occupée, avec le sous-marin Casabianca (décembre 1942-mars 1943), Éditions L'Harmattan, year 1988 ISBN 978-2-7384-0213-4
Technical Documentation
  • Les Sous-marins de 1 500 tonnes, Claude Picard, Rennes, Marines Editions, year 2006, total pages pages 119, ISBN 2-915-37955-6|ISBN 978-2-915-37955-6
  • Pierre Vincent-Bréchignac, Flottes de combat 1940-1942, Flottes de combat, Paris, year 1942


  1. ^ L'Argo, L'Archimède, Casabianca, Le Centaure et Le Glorieux.


  1. ^ Plaquette concernant le 40eanniversaire de la libération de la Corse.
  2. ^ J.N. Houterman. "Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) Officers 1940-1945". Retrieved 2017-04-03. 
  3. ^ "Nouvelle page 1". Retrieved 2017-04-03. 

External links