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1 Morbihan Flag by Raphaël Vinet

 

 

 

Keroman  submarine base, Lorient

(Base Ingénieur Général Stosskopf)

Guided tours can be taken round the third and last built (below) of the large blockhouses built by the Germans during World War 2 to protect the U-boats operating from Lorient.

(Keroman 3 viewed from Port Louis)

(Keroman 3 viewed from Kernevel)

The base was subsequently used by the French Navy but is now used largely for light industry much of it sailing and boating related. Driving through the old base one passes the first two blockhouses (Keroman 1 & 2 completed in 1941, below) and can view the track system used to move the submarines out of the water and into the onshore blockhouse pens - an old French submarine, the Flore, (Daphné class, 890 tons, built 1958-67 (see link for details)  - similar in size to the Class VII U-boats) is displayed in the transporter cradle. The covered slipway of Keroman 1 is on the left hand side of the photo above and served Keroman 1 and 2.

 

Keroman 1 covered slipway lock

Keroman 1 & 2 with the submarine Flore between

Submarines could be removed from the water and placed in a blockhouse pen in under one hour.

Keroman 2 with track and cradle system between the blockhouses

The tour starts inside Keroman 3 (completed 1943) with a walk along the submarine pens to the far end of the blockhouse. Unlike the other blockhouses Keroman 3 is a series of water docks.

The two pens at the far end (above and below) were used for maintenance and could be emptied as dry docks. The remaining  five pens were open to the water, the central pen could hold three boats while the others accommodated two each.

Keroman 3 maintenance docks

Signs on the dock walls mark the berthing stop points for the French Navy's Daphné and Agosta boats. The base was not used for nuclear boats.

One pen shows some evidence of bombing during the war - a ripple in the roof (above). The bombing was unsuccessful and the reasons for this become clear in the next part of the tour climbing the stairs to the roof of the building.

The roof's layered design with spaces between the layers of re-inforced concrete was very successful in withstanding and dissipating bomb blast effects (above, the space under the roof). The tour goes out on to the roof to one of the (now unoccupied) anti-aircraft gun positions from where there is a very good view of Lorient, Larmor Plage and Port Louis. One can see the buildings in Kernevel (Larmor Plage, pictured below centre) occupied by Admiral Doenitz, the commander of the German submarine forces, as his Headquarters (until 1942 when the HQ moved to Paris for security reasons after the Allied Dieppe raid).

View from Keroman 3 of Lamor Plage

Villa Kerillon or the "Chateau des Sardines", Admiral Doenitz's Headquarters, with the Villa Margaret to the right

There is also a view from the roof of the two original Dom (or Cathedral) bunkers (below - looking rather like today's hardened aircraft shelters) built in the early stages of the war behind the fishing port to protect submarines in maintenance. Submarines were removed from the water via the slipway (centre) to be placed in these bunkers or onto open (unprotected) hardstanding areas. A detailed view can be seen on this link [click "index", then scroll down and click "Sleepway"] giving a 360 degree view round the slipway, turntable and bunkers.

The base was named after the war in memory of Ingénieur Général Stosskopf, a French Officer from Alsace, who was executed by the Germans in 1944 for assisting the Allies with information about the base.

For further details on the operations of the base during the war see www.uboatwar.net

Blavet Valley, Morbihan, Brittany, France

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