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France: Weather ships

Last modified: 2020-01-25 by ivan sache
Keywords: weather ships |
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Pennant of weather ships - Image by Ivan Sache, 4 December 2019

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Presentation of French weather ships

After the Second World War, the development of transatlantic air flight required the organization of aid to navigation. In 1946, OACI obtained the establishment of 13 weather station.
The French Navy acquired four American frigates, which were based in Brest and renamed to Mermoz, Lebrix, Laplace and Leverrier. The Laplace blew up on a mine in 1950 in Fresnaye bay.
In 1952, Navy personals serving on weather ships were requisitioned because of the War of Indochina. The operation of weather ships was transferred to the merchant navy. The shipowner Delmas-Vieljeux, based in La Rochelle, was selected because of its location close to the ACRP (Ateliers et Chantiers de La Rochelle-Pallice) shipyard and to the Rochefort Navy Hospital, which supplied doctors for the ships.
Two sister-ships ships were built at the Chantiers de la Méditerranée in Le Havre: France I and France II. Completely restored in 2004-2005, the France I is open to visit; it shows extensive material related to the ship's original mission, films and recordings of seamen and officers who served on the ship.

Deemed obsolete because of the advent of weather satellites, the France I left Romeo point on 31 December 1985 at the end of her last mission ans sailed back to the port of La Palice. Patrick Schnepp, the founder of the Maritime Museum of La Rochelle, convinced Mayor Michel Crépeau to avquire the ship, which became the museum's flagship.
[Histoires maritimes rochelaises; La Rochelle Maritime Museum]

Ivan Sache, 4 December 2019

Pennant of French weather ships

The pennant used by weather ships is shown in the entrance hall of the Maritime Museum (photo). A film available during the visit of the France I shows the pennant hoisted beneath the French ensign.
The flag is horizontally divided dark blue-light blue, charged with a big white disk inscribing a red wind-rose.

Ivan Sache, 4 December 2019