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French ironclad Lave
French floating battery Lave
Lave, one of the first ironclad floating batteries.
Career (France) Ensign of France.svg
Namesake: Lava
Ordered: July 1854
Builder: Lorient, France
Cost: 1.23 million French Francs
Laid down: 20 August 1854
Launched: 5 June 1855
Decommissioned: 1873
Maiden voyage: 6 August 1855
Fate: Scrapped in 1873
General characteristics
Class & type: Dévastation class ironclad floating battery
Displacement: 574 tonnes
Length: 53.02 m
Beam: 13.35 m
Draught: 2.66 m
Propulsion: Sail (three-masted, 885 m²)
single screw, Mazeline steam engine, 150 shp
Speed: 4 knots

1st battery: 16 x 50 + 2 x 12 cm

2nd battery: 2 x 24 + 6 x 19 + 3 x 16 cm
Armour: 110mm iron plates (100mm over the batteries), plus 440mm oak planking.

Lave was an ironclad floating battery of the French Navy during the 19th century. She was part of the Dévastation-class of floating batteries.

In the 1850s, the British and French navies deployed iron-armoured floating batteries as a supplement to the wooden steam battlefleet in the Crimean War. The role of the battery was to assist unarmoured mortar and gunboats bombarding shore fortifications. The French used three of their ironclad batteries (Lave, Tonnante and Dévastation) in 1855 against the defences at the Battle of Kinburn (1855) on the Black Sea, where they were effective against Russian shore defences. They would later be used again during the Italian war in the Adriatic in 1859.[1]


Ironclad floating battery of the Dévastation class, spending the winter in Crimea, winter of 1855-1856.

The ships were flat-bottomed, and commonly nicknamed "soapboxes". They were towed from France to Crimea to participate to the conflict. Lave was towed by the paddle frigate Magellan.



  • de Balincourt, Captain; Vincent-Bréchignac, Captain (1973). "French Floating Batteries". Akron, OH: F.P.D.S.. pp. 13–20. 
  • Gardiner, Robert, ed (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. 

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