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FRENCH FS BOUVET BATTLESHIP
FS Bouvet was a pre-dreadnought battleship of the French Navy, built in the 1890s, which joined the French Navy in June 1898. She had a length of 117.9 m, a beam of 21.4 m, a draft of 8 m and a displacement of 12,200 tons. In mid-February 1915, following the outbreak of World War I in July 1914, the French and British assembled a fleet of four French and twelve British warships, including the FS Bouvet, to lead the assault on the Dardanelles.
On 18 March, the French and British fleets launched an attack on the strait, aimed at the inner ring of forts guarding the narrowest part of the Çanakkale strait.
The British column under Rear-Admiral John de Robeck would make the first attack from a longer distance with ships led by the powerful dreadnought battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth; after the shore artillery fire was reduced, French ships under Admiral Guépratte would enter the straits and attack at closer range. Around 13.45 hours, Admiral John de Robeck ordered Admiral Guépratte to withdraw his ships. During the withdrawal maneuver, FS Bouvet was shaken by a huge explosion, capsized and sank in just 2 minutes and 55 seconds. 75 of her crew were rescued, 24 officers and 619 men were killed.
Despite the sinking of Bouvet, the first casualty of the day, the British remained unaware of the minefield, believing that the explosion was caused by a shell or torpedo. Later, two British pre-dreadnoughts, HMS Ocean and HMS Irresistible, were sunk and HMS Inflexible was damaged in the same minefield. FS Suffren and FS Gaulois were heavily damaged by shore artillery during the engagement.
While FS Bouvet and FS Suffren neutralized the forts on the Asian side of the strait, FS Gaulois and FS Charlemagne were tasked with silencing the batteries on the European side. Mistakenly believing that the Ottoman batteries had been largely neutralized by the British bombardment, the French commander, Admiral Guépratte, brought his ships to within 9,100 m (10,000 yards) of the forts and engaged in an artillery duel.During the attack of FS Suffren and FS Bouvet on the forts, FS Bouvet received eight hits from Turkish artillery fire.With the loss of FS Bouvet and two British warships during the March 18 attack, it was decided to abandon the strategy of attacking from the sea to cross the Strait and land at Gallipoli. As the Franco-British forces began preparations for the offensive, FS Bouvet was replaced in the fleet by FS Henri IV.