Last Tuesday, after sailing for more than 6 weeks across the Atlantic Ocean, the Hermione reached the American coast and was welcomed in the name of the US Navy by the USS Mitscher destroyer, off the coast of Norfolk.
A frigate from the past
235 years ago, on March, 21st, 1780, the French Marquis de La Fayette got aboard the Hermione, a frigate that was built in the Rochefort dockyard, with a view to bring the French military and financial backing to the Americans as they were at war against the British.
In 1992 in Rochefort, at the instigation of Jean-Louis Frot, mayor of the moment, the Hermione-La Fayette Association was born, the French academician Erik Orsenna being at its head. At the suggestion of this association, the “Hermione project” took shape. The titanic and extraordinary challenge, which consisted in recreating the Hermione as faithfully as possible, was finally officially launched in 1997.
Within 17 years, no less than 2 000 French oak-trees, 25km of rigging, 1000 pullies, 2200 square metres of sails, etc. were necessary for this gigantic construction, which attracted over 4 million visitors.
The success that this incredible construction site met almost made it self-financing for what adds up to nearly €40 million.
Nevertheless, for the project to come to life, the new Hermione is slightly different from its model: a bit of the modern comfort was added so that some of the inconveniences of the early Atlantic-crossing would be avoided (promiscuity, hygiene).
A historical journey
The reconstitution of the Hermione, that cast off the shore of the Île-d’Aix, close to Soubise, on April 18th with about 200 crew members onboard, reached the American coast this week, honourably welcomed in the name of the Navy by the USS Mitscher destroyer.
Picture from Le Parisien, June, 4th
Its schedule for the few months to come is really busy, the halts in different ports of call quickly succeeding to one another: the US, Canada, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, before heading back to Brest in Brittany, in August.
The pinnacle of the festive period brought about by the stopovers of the Hermione will take place on July 4th in New York, where a very special event will celebrate the anniversary of the American Independence, beneath the Statue of Liberty’s very eyes.
You can follow this incredible adventure step by step on the dedicated Hermione website!