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École Navale

École Navale
Officers designates from the École during ceremonies of the May.
Officers designates from the École during ceremonies of the 8 May.
Motto Honneur, Patrie, Valeur, Discipline
Established 1827
Type Military college
Admin. staff 270 military, 30 civilians
Students 1 500 each year
Location Lanvéoc-Poulmic, Brittany, France
Campus Naval Base of Lanvéoc-Poulmic
Affiliations Conférence des Grandes écoles;Conference of the Directors of French Engineering Schools;European University of Brittany
Website Official site of the École Navale
The Borda, where the Naval Academy was located from 1864 to 1890.

The École Navale is the French Naval Academy in charge of the education of the officers of the French Navy. They are meant to have responsibilities on board ships, submarines, naval aviation, groups of fusiliers marins and commandos but also in general staff. The Ecole Navale and its research institute (IRENAV) are in Lanvéoc-Poulmic, south of the roadstead of Brest.


  • History 1
    • The successive ′′Borda′′ of the Application School of the Navy 1.1
    • The traditions on board the Borda 1.2
      • The welcoming ceremony 1.2.1
      • Traditions 1.2.2
      • Slang "Baille" 1.2.3
      • learning the work of seaman 1.2.4
      • The Ecole Navale back to the ground 1.2.5
  • Officer stream 2
    • Engineer degree 2.1
    • Under contract officer stream 2.2
  • Famous alumni 3
  • Further reading 4
  • Notes et références 5
  • External links 6


The academy was founded in 1830 by the order of King Louis-Philippe. Originally the academy was based on ships, anchored in the harbour of Brest, such as the Borda (previously named Valmy), hence the nickname of "Bordache" given to the students.

In 1914, the École Navale was transferred ashore in Brest. The school was destroyed by Allied bombing raids during World War II, and was moved to nearby Lanvéoc-Poulmic, on the opposite side of the bay of Brest (Rade de Brest). The academy remained in this location, and was officially inaugurated by Charles de Gaulle in 1965.

The successive ′′Borda′′ of the Application School of the Navy

The Ecole Navale, created in 1830, was for long on board successive vessels based in Brest and nicknamed Borda (from the name of Jean-Charles de Borda, famous seaman of the 18th century): the first vessel on board which it had been set was named Orion; it was then replaced i 1840 by the Commerce-de-Paris, old wooden-three-decked ship which was 32 years old. This ship had an inappropriate name for a Naval Academy, so it was nicknamed Borda. In 1863, the academy was transferred on board the Valmy (Borda III), then in 1890 on board the Intrépide (Borda IV), and around 1900 on board the Duguay-Trouin (1900) (or Borda V), hospital yacht. Every of these vessels was still nicknamed Borda. In 1912, the French cruiser Jeanne d'Arc (1899) became the school ship until 1928 (with an interruption during the first World War).

The traditions on board the Borda

The welcoming ceremony

The new pupils were boarded from the pontoon Gueydon, one day before the others. Crammed like sheep in a gunboat, they were bouncy and happy while launching a goodbye to their families. As soon as arrived, they were sorted, numbered, undressed in order to give them the white blouse and linen trousers. Their hair was also shorn.

Two days later, the parents were authorised on board for the mass of beginning. Flags were placed around the altar, an only seat was reserved for the Pope, nickname of the captain commanding the academy. The parents took place on bench, and then entered the pupils, the ancient first, tiding themselves on the sides, and then the new in their new suit under the quip of the others who were screaming "Caillou! Caillou!" (Stone!Stone!) to salute the bald head. [1]


A traditional ceremony on board the Borda was the presentation and delivery of the sword to the son by his "baille" father, for the first day of outing; the son knelt and kissed the sword's blade as if he were being knighted.

In the spring, when the first outing in dinghy took place, another consecration took place, this of baptism that the ancient gave to the new thanks to water buckets.[1]

Slang "Baille"

The Ecole Navale is traditionally called La Baille (and not Navale which is the ine if the old school of Health of Bordeaux). Its slang is rich and comes principally from maritime slang. Like every "Grande Ecole" which respects itself you talk there with its slang. The commander in second is the widow. The elephants or the "pékins" are the civilians. The "bordache" or the "type-baille" is the pupil. The "chafustard" is the mechanic. The mastiffs are the subofficers assuring the military surrounding. Finally, there are the songs of the board which aren't all subject to transcription due to their crudity, but of which some are of high musical and literary standard. Nowadays, it uses some expressions coming from other military academies ( École Polytechnique, Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr, École de l'air) and from military high schools. The reference about it is the book of the commander Roger Coindeau, illustrated by Luc-Marie Bayle.

learning the work of seaman

All this will not impede the future Navy officers to work hard ; since the first days, the old accompany the new in climbing the shrouds, and make them do the recovery in order to enter in the hune. It's the first step. Then comes the climbing of the second hune, and little by little, everyone gets used not to have dizziness, but to run on the footboard stretched beneath each yardarm, to unfurl the sail. All this commanded by a whistle. Even if the job of topsman had became unuseful with the modern war boats, it was still taught to the student-officers, in order for them to be able to bring back a catch in time of war with its sails, and also because it was part of the traditions.

The two years of school were well filled up with everything that had to learn a Navy officer: rowing, sailing, the machines, the infantry exercises, the maneuver of guns and the school of fire, the wheelhouse signals with flags, the services of the boat, superior mathematics, geography, hydrography,English and a lot more.

The Ecole Navale back to the ground

In the beginning of the 20th century, a project to install on the ground the Ecole Naval had almost made its way. The chosen place was at la Pointe, in the district of Recouvrance (Brest). The project failed due to a lack of money. However the school settled in 1915 in building already built in Laninon, also situated in Recouvrance.

The first stone of the Ecole Navale was put on November 14, 1929 by Georges Laygues, minister of the Navy, and the school was inaugurated the 30th September 1935 at Saint-Pierre-Quilbignon. The tradition of a circumnavigation was preserved, particularly around the successives Jeanne d'Arc. The Jeanne d'Arc campaign takes now place on multiple war boats.

In 1945, the important destructions suffered by the Ecole Navale during the second world war didn't allow it to welcome the student officers in normal conditions. The school was transferred to provisory barracks at the Lanveoc aeronautical base. The definitive buildings of the new Ecole Navale at this place were inaugurated in 1965 by the general De Gaulle.[2] The old Ecole Navale of Saint-Pierre-Quilbignon is now known as the Naval Instruction Center which host the Lycée naval, the École de maistrance and the Ecole des Mousses.

Officer stream

Engineer degree

Garde au drapeau de l'École navale

The engineer degree is a degree made in tree years after the preparatory classes to the great High Schools. In the end of 2009, l'Ecole Navale has adapted it's formation in order for it to be entirely in the European education outline. The students are recruited thanks to the exam bank after two or three years of mathematics preparatory classes. The program is articulated on 6 semesters (or 360 credits ECTS ):

  • semester 1 : maritime and military elementary formation ;
  • semestre 2 : scientific common-core syllabus ;
  • semestre 3 : scientific options and International relations ;
  • semestre 4 : deepening scientific way and "environment of the French Defense" ;
  • semestre 5 : end of degree project ;
  • semestre 6 : sea application campaign.

At the end of this degree, they are given the title of engineer from the Ecole Navale and the rank of master. This degree is recognized by the "engineer titles commission".

After this formation, they go on with the "maritime superior formation and specialization" and they are ranked "Ship of the Line ensign first class" (Sublieutenant).

Under contract officer stream

The officer formation stream is followed by the "under contract officers". This officer initial formation is given at the Ecole Navale. It's target is to give to this young graduate of the superior education of diversified origins a maritime, military culture and an engineer formation. It takes one year.

It is attested by the attribution for:

  • the Navy Officer of the "operations lead" stream by the certificate of " bridge watch leader" which is the international certificate STCW*95 ;
  • The navy Officer of the "energy and propulsion" stream By the certificate of "engine watch leader" ;

At the end of this year, the midshipmen are given the rank of ensign, and they are sent to follow the "maritime superior formation and specialization" (see underneath)

Famous alumni

Further reading

  • Maria Petringa, Brazza, A Life for Africa, Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006. ISBN 978-1-4259-1198-0. A biography of French Naval Academy alumnus, explorer of Africa, and human rights activist Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, including a detailed description of his years on the training ship Borda.

Notes et références

  1. ^ a b Le Journal du dimanche, du 24 août 1913, consultable
  2. ^ [1]

External links

  • Official site of the École Navale

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