Industrial seaport in the Loire-Atlantique département, Pays de la Loire region, France; population (2005 est) 68,200. It stands at the mouth of the River Loire, 53 km/mi northwest of Nantes and as a port it is capable of taking the largest vessels. Industries include shipbuilding, engineering, chemicals, and food canning. There are oil refineries nearby and the largest oil-port facility in France further up the estuary at Donges. In World War II it was used as a German submarine base until put out of action by a British commando raid on 28 March 1942. St-Nazaire is France's major naval dockyard.
History Some believe that St-Nazaire was the site of the ancient settlement of Carbilo, where the Romans built a fleet in 56 BC. The port was originally developed in the 19th century as a deep-water port for Nantes. For a period during World War I St-Nazaire was the base for the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). In World War II it had the only dry dock on the Atlantic seaboard capable of holding the German battleship Tirpitz, and it was towards St-Nazaire that the German battleship Bismarck was heading when it was sunk in 1941. In the British commando raid of 1942, the lock gates were completely destroyed when the destroyer Campbeltown rammed them and blew up. A Royal Marine force then destroyed the pumping machinery. Much of the town was destroyed in the war and was rebuilt in the 1950s.