Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Jeanne d Arc serves as a helicopter cruiser, fielding a variety of rotorary-wing elements.

The Jeanne d'Arc (R 97) can be classified as an "aircraft" carrier in the general sense through her design is such that she primarily serves rotary-wing aircraft (helicopters) and is therefore officially classified as a helicopter cruiser. She features no flight decks in the traditional sense but instead launches from helicopter decks at the stern. As of this writing, the vessel is in active service with the French Navy though she is slated to be decommissioned by 2011. The primary role of the Jeanne d'Arc is in the training of French Navy pilots though her air arm can be called upon (in a time of war) to take to the offensive with her various multi-role helicopter systems.

Design of the Jeanne d'Arc features a large centrally-located superstructure dominated by a large mast with a funnel at the rear-most part of the superstructure. She features a flat bow and her stern is made up mostly of her large flight deck which can handle up to three helicopters at one time, either landing or taking off. Hangars are maintained below deck and can store up to 10 helicopters of various makes and sizes. These include French-made Puma, Super Frelon, Alouette III and Gazelle series helicopters which be made up to fulfill transport, reconnaissance or attack roles. Power for the ship is accomplished through four engines delivering some 10,000 horsepower each and is conventional in design. A crew of 777 personnel made up of sailors officers and air men can be accommodated on board.

The vessel features limited self-defense capabilities when compared to a modern cruiser but is centered around her array of 6 x Exocet 38 surface-to-surface anti-ship missiles, these being held in single launchers at the forward edge of the superstructure - three launchers to a side. This is supplemented by 2 x 100mm cannons (though the vessel was originally built with 4 total guns) which are mounted to either forward side of the main superstructure. For close-in work, 4 x 12.7mm heavy caliber anti-aircraft machine guns are provided.

The Jeanne d'Arc was laid down in 1959 (as the “La Resolue”) and launched in 1961. She was officially commissioned in 1964 to which the vessel was renamed as the Jeanne d'Arc after the decommissioning of the Jeanne d'Arc, a cruiser built during the 1930's. She makes her homeport at Brest, France. She is affectionately known as "La Jeanne" and represents the third such French Navy vessel to be named after the historical (and somewhat mythical) military leader.



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