The latest edition of the magazine, Navires & Histoire is number 16, dated February 2003. If you have not seen a copy of this magazine published by LeLa Presse, it is one of the best, if not the best, magazines on naval history to be found. Published every other month Navires & Histoire always features superb production qualities with glossy, heavy gage paper, outstanding art-work and beautiful color prints. Written in French, the magazine contains numerous interesting articles on warships, merchants and diverse nautical topics. Frequently a subject is run in a series and appears in a number of consecutive issues. Issue #16 fully matches the extremely high standard that earlier issues of Navires & Histoire have established.
Navires & Histoire always starts with two standard features, the letters to the editor, which are almost always on articles that appeared in a previous issue, and news briefs about assorted recent naval news. LeLa Presse uses a multitude of beautiful color photos, color plates and graphics even with these standard introductory sections. For issue #16 as an example these introductory sections contained 11 photographs, 5 line drawings, 3 paintings, and 3 color plates/profiles. That is only the beginning of the naval graphics feast in this outstanding publication. A listing of the other topics is as follows.
The Navy of the Japanese Self-Defense Force – This six-page article features color photographs by Guy A. H. Toremans with captions by Frédéric Stahl. It is a photo essay with 14 photographs showing contemporary Japanese warships.
The Canadian Navy at War 1939-1945 – Written by Bernard Crochet the piece features an introduction into the origins of the Royal Canadian Navy and a short history leading to World War Two. It then provides an overview of the significant campaigns and events in which the RCN participated. (Nine pages, 21 photographs, 1 painting)
The Stealth Frigate Aconit – The French stealth frigate La Fayette F 710 is a remarkable and instantly recognizable design. Raymond Reboul writes about the fourth unit in the class, the Aconit F 713. (12 pages, 28 photographs, 2 drawings, 1 schematic)
The Armored Cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau – This is my favorite article in this issue. It deals with the German Asiatic Squadron based at Tsing-Tao, China at the start of World War One, commanded by Admiral Graf von Spee. The author, Philippe Caresse obviously concentrates on the two most powerful units of the force, the 12,985 tons armored cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. They were both crack gunnery ships and when war came, they found themselves cut off with no hope of reinforcements, on the other side of the globe from home. Since Japan had an alliance with Great Britain and was thought to be about to enter the war against Germany, their Asiatic position was untenable. Von Spee took the Squadron eastward, across the Pacific to South America, where he encountered a British cruiser squadron at the Battle of Coronel of off Chile on November 1, 1914. The battle was a total German victory with the British armored cruisers Good Hope, 14,150 tons Drake Class, flagship of Admiral Cradock, and the County Class, Monmouth, 9,800 tons, being sunk with all hands. The article ends with this battle. The fate of the German Asiatic Squadron at the Battle of the Falklands in December 1914 will be covered in a subsequent issue, probably #17. (14 pages, 15 photographs, 4 line drawings, 2 paintings, 2 maps, 1 chart and a beautiful color plate on the back cover)
Dossier "Enduring Freedom" – A regular feature of each issue of Navires & Histoire is the day to day coverage of naval operations in the Indian Ocean and adjacent areas. The period November 12, 2002 to January 12, 2003 is covered in this issue. ( 14 pages, 27 photographs, 5 maps, 1 color plate/profile, 1 organization table)
The Two Lives of l’Abeille 25, Tow and Salvage – Written by Jean-Luc Déan, this presents a short history of the towing and salvage company, Les Abeilles. It concentrates on l’Abeille 25, which was built in 1939. (The company named all of their tugs l’Abeille, with each one being numbered in consecutive order.. L’Abeille 1 & 2 being employed when the company was founded in 1864.) Most of the photographs below show l’Abeille 25 involved with the sinking Flying Enterprise. (14 pages, 21 photographs, 1 painting)
The Navy of Napoleon – Another series of Navires & Histoire chronicles the French Navy at the end of the 18th century and into the 19th. This installment by Gérard Piouffre covers the force in 1803 to 1804 with the Spanish alliance. (6 pages, 9 drawings or paintings, 1 map)
The Affair of the So San – Another article about contemporary naval operations. On December 9, 2002 the Spanish frigate, Navarra F85, stopped the Cambodian freighter, So San, as it approached the coast of Yemen. The freighter was boarded and missiles from North Korea were discovered hidden under bags of cement. (2 pages, 14 photographs, 1 map)
Issue #16 concludes with two standard features, Book Reviews and Model Kit Reviews. The Book Review section looks at seven books (2 pages, 9 photographs). Two pages and 11 photographs are also devoted to the review of 6 kits, 1 magazine and 1 photo-etched brass set.