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L’Hermione was a French frigate which was built in 1779 in Rochefort. She was involved in several conflicts with the British and eventually met her end in 1792 when she ran aground off Croisic on the Atlantic coast of France, and eventually sunk as a result of bad weather conditions.

L'Hermione

L’Hermione

It only took 11 months to build the ship back in 1779, which is worth mentioning because a replica is now being built also at Rochefort and this was begun in 1997 and is still on going. It is hoped that work will be finished soon so that the ship may repeat the voyage it undertook in 1780 by visiting Boston in 2015 which will be 240 years on from the start of the American war of Independence which ran from 1775 to 1783.

It does strike me as being a bit arbitirary to visit 240 years after the event and also not really in line with the date of the arrival of the ship in 1980. It is 240 years after the start of the war. It would seem to me that the most appropriate time to visit would be in 2030, the 250th anniversary of  the visit of L’Hermione to Boston. Perhaps the Boston tourist board are aiming to get several bites at the cherry and maximise the potential profit.

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The original ship was most famous for transporting General La Fayette to Boston to bring the Americans the good news that France was committing a further 5,500 men and 5 frigates to help the Americans in their war for independence from Britain – how nice of the French to help out. That was not the end of this ship’s involvement. She went on to fight in the battle of Louisberg where she suffered  substantial but not terminal damage at the hand of a  British ship called  Iris. I am tempted to say what a pity, but the loss of a ship inevitably brings loss of life and so whether they were French or British, probably best if they stay afloat.

It then went on to fight again against the British off the coast of India. This time the French were helping local Indians who  were fighting against the East India Company. At sea it was a battle between the British Admiral Sir Edward Hughes and the French Admiral Comte Pierre de Suffren de Saint Tropez, neither of whom seem to have been terribly brilliant as despite 4 actions in the year 1782, none were conclusive and eventually hostiities ceased when a peace agreement was finally brokered back in Europe.

Painting of the Original

Painting of the Original

You can visit the construction site of the new Hermione (at a reasonable price) and it is very informative and interesting. There is a lot of information about the progress of the work with photos, drawings and videos. It is noteworthy that all construction is carried out using traditional methods and materials and this no doubt partly accounts for the difference in time between the construction period of 11 months for the first boat and  several years for this one.

This is just one of the tourist attractions that Rochefort has to offer. To get more info on Rochefort visit https://poitoucharentesinphotos.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/rochefort/

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