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Sir Lancelot Holland

USS Bonhomme Richard wreck found

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The wreck of Captain John Paul Jones's ship the USS Bonhomme Richard has been located, the ship, a gift from the French, had been involved in a hard fought battle off of Filey, Flamborough Head, on the Yorkshire coast with The 50 gun Frigate HMS Serapis. 

 http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/wreckage-of-americas-first-ever-naval-vessel-discovered-off-coast-of-yorkshire-in-ultimate-find/ar-BBPehlM?li=AAnZ9Ug&ocid=UE12DHP

Some 40 pieces of wreckage were found, from the ship which sank burning after U.S. ships entered the fight on September 23rd 1779, Outnumbered, Captain Richard Pearson struck his colours, surrendering the 5 year old Serapis  to Captain John Paul Jones.

It is to be hoped that the wreck site will become declared a war grave by the Admiralty Courts, and, that the grave of over 250 British and American sailors will be respected. 

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Great piece of information !

Before being USS Bonhomme Richard, the ship was a 900-ton French fluyt, Le Duc de Durasbuilt in 1765 for the French East India Company. It did two trading voyages to China. Repurchased by King Louis XVI, she was transferred to the early US Navy and renamed Bonhomme Richard. She then won fame during the American Revolutionary War.

For those interested, there's a great book with plans and so on in English (also in French) about her : here. Here is a pdf extract. Very expensive but there's everything you want to know about her.

A great opportunity for a DLC btw. She would certainly attract US costumers, pirates and... traders. Three possible armament versions

  • as Le Duc de Duras :
    • in peace time : 20 x 8-pdr
    • in war time : 26 x 12-pdr + 26 x 8-pdr
  • as Le Bonhomme Richard : 44 guns
Edited by LeBoiteux
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9 hours ago, LeBoiteux said:

A great opportunity for a DLC btw. She would certainly attract US costumers, pirates and... traders. Three possible armament versions

  • as Le Duc de Duras :
    • in peace time : 20 x 8-pdr
    • in war time : 26 x 12-pdr + 26 x 8-pdr
  • as Le Bonhomme Richard : 44 guns

They would make a fine matched set, Serapis and Bonhomme Richard, which may be a selling point in it's own right. HMS Serapis went on to serve in the USN for a while, even, having her own ensign created so that she could enter Dutch ports leading to the Netherlands recognising the United States of America as a nation. The Serapis flag as it became known was probably one of, or, even the earliest US Navy ensign.  

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Battle of Flamborough Head

Franco-American fleet

  • Le Bonhomme Richard (35 or 44 guns ?)
  • Frigate Le Pallas (34 guns ?)
  • Continental Navy Frigate L'Alliance (36 guns ?)
  • La Vengeance (12 guns)

Three other ships were part of the expedition but did not take part of the battle : the Cutter Le Cerf (a book about her : here) and two French Privateers Le Granville and Le Monsieur

UK fleet

  • HMS Serapis (44 guns)
  • HMS Countess of Scarborough (20 guns)
  • Merchant ships

(any correction is welcome)

Edited by LeBoiteux
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Yes ,indeed, the French had  a good reputation for building ships that handled well to begin with, and pre-revolution her Captains and Admiralty were highly experienced, very capable officers, sadly the Terrors that followed the Revolution decimated the French Navy's Officer corps. 

Flamborough Head was a serious embarrassment for the Royal Navy, to lose a Frigate to what was, in effect, an overarmed merchant ship, manned by what the Admiralty would have considered to have been ill-trained, possibly, even amateur men (i think it more likely, in fact, that the crew of the Bonhomme Richard would mainly of been ex Royal Navy and almost certainly professional seamen) from what was at the time not even a recognised country by most European nations in British waters. 

As far as I am aware, an Act of Congress was enabled to design a U.S, Naval Ensign was passed that year, at the time (as is the case today) ships were required to fly a recognised ensign to enter European ports an without  one the ex HMS Serapis would have been denied entry to European ports outside of France. What became known as The Serapis flag was the first recognised American Naval Ensign, formally recognised by the Nederlands permitting her entry to Dutch ports and formally recognising the United States of America as a Sovereign Nation. With the Serapis flag being included in the games flag DLC, it will, i hope, be seen not just as another flag, but for what it actually was, a new Naval Ensign, of a new country, worthy of respect by those who fight under and against it. 

In this respect the Battle of Flamborough Head was probably the most important naval battle in U.S. Naval history, for without it, America would not have been recognised as a legitimate country in Europe until much later, such was the effect that John Paul Jones, and, Benjamin Franklin, had on world history through the loss of both the Bonhomme Richard and the Serapis. 

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8 hours ago, Sir Lancelot Holland said:

Yes ,indeed, the French had  a good reputation for building ships that handled well to begin with, and pre-revolution her Captains and Admiralty were highly experienced, very capable officers, sadly the Terrors that followed the Revolution decimated the French Navy's Officer corps. 

Also too bad that, before the Revolution, the access to the career of French Navy officers was reserved for nobility only...

8 hours ago, Sir Lancelot Holland said:

Flamborough Head was a serious embarrassment for the Royal Navy, to lose a Frigate to what was, in effect, an overarmed merchant ship, manned by what the Admiralty would have considered to have been ill-trained, possibly, even amateur men (i think it more likely, in fact, that the crew of the Bonhomme Richard would mainly of been ex Royal Navy and almost certainly professional seamen) from what was at the time not even a recognised country by most European nations in British waters. 

The crew of the Bonhomme Richard was hired at Lorient (France). So there were lots of French sailors among the crew (> 150). But also crewmen from other European countries (Portugal, Ireland...) and of course some from the USA. Some were novice, but the others weren't. It was a good opportunity for unemployed seamen to fight (carpenter, gunners, quartermasters...). The Irish Regiment de Walsh-Serrent in the service of the French crown also provided a contingent of marines. 

Edited by LeBoiteux

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