Operation Grasp

This was the British seizure of French ships already in British ports (and Gibraltar, Malta and Singapore) or arriving in them at the time of France’s capitulation to Germany on 25 June 1940 (3 July 1940).

These ships included at Portsmouth the old battleship Courbet, destroyer Léopard, torpedo boats Branlebas, Cordelière, Flore, Incomprise and Melpomène, six sloops and the supply ship Pollux; at Plymouth the old battleship Paris, destroyers Mistral, Ouragan and Triomphant, torpedo boat Boucher, three sloops, and the submarines Surcouf, Junon and Minerve; at Falmouth the submarines Ondine and Orion, three sloops and the target ship Impassible; and at Dundee the submarine Rubis.

There was resistance by the crews of Mistral and Surcouf, resulting in losses on each side. In addition, three minelayers, 16 submarine chasers, seven motor torpedo boats, 98 minesweepers and patrol vessels, 42 tugs and harbour craft, and 20 trawlers were seized.