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Sir Lancelot Holland

Frigate! Mistress of the seas, and, jack of all trades

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Every Navy has had their glamour ships, Victory,  L' Redoubtable, Nuestra Señora de la Santísima Trinidad , renowned names that struck a chord with people of their nations, the ships that Officers aspired to command, but so few were able to do so. 

For the bulk of every navy it was the Frigates that were the mistress of the seas, more economical than the Lineships, they fought in many of the famous battles, and, more than a few lesser known ones too, patrolled endlessly,  they were the ultimate in blockading ships, equally at home in Blue waters, or,  inshore, wherever there was trouble you'd find a frigate, yet, there was never really enough of them to go around.

While looking at something almost completely unrelated I came across this:

https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/military-history/the-powerful-frigates-of-the-british-royal-navy/

There is, of course, nothing wrong with desiring to sail one the great ships of the line, as a group we can work our way through the small ships and sail some of the most prestigious ships in Naval history, perhaps, without much thought about the Frigates, the Jack of all trades, the true mistress of the seas. Perhaps, as a group we should make more use of them than we do, after all every famous Captain and Admiral all served their time aboard them, and, without them Cockburn, Pellew, even Nelson would not have been the Officers of great renown that they became. 

 

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I absolutely love my Trincomalee, despite how soft it is compared to others. My Indefatigable is very resilient, even after this new damage model. And if I need something a bit more robust with more guns I prefer my United States. Frigates are the joy of the sea, indeed the jack of all trades.

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im a frigate guy everyone knows this. My dream is to sail a british 2nd rate with bow chasers in naval action. Maybe admin will do this

 

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Loved the Indefatigable first time I sailed it.  First solo PVP kill in one.  It's firepower set it apart as a 5th rate not so sure as 4th.  Starting to fall for the Endymion as well, and Trinc is also a joy to sail.  5th rates have given me some of my favourite battles....even when losing I've usually had my money's worth of fun.  

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The Renome was my first frigate I purchased, and kept. I loved her simplicity and beauty. She was very fast and agile. Capable of traveling over 15 knots, I used her to capture many a hapless trader. I then discovered the strengths of running a ship that had bow guns and stern guns... as this was before the server merge, this strength was nearly unpresidented, I used the unfair advantage to my greatest possible effect at the time regularly forcing ganking squads of 5 out of battle with my long guns at extremem range when chain shot was unlimited and the damage fall off from chain shot was not so abrupt. I could control any situation in that Surprise. Now I have to use other tactics in order to survive against the odds, this has forced me to learn to use the larger 5th rates.

I agree, the frigates are also my favorite class of ship in game... especially the Light Frigates like Renome, Surprise and Cerberus. The addition of the Hercules to the light frigates was welcome to me also as it packs a good punch for a little ship, and I cant wait to get my hands on the Pandora when it comes available.

As for the larger 5th rates... I am learning to sail them... I don't like them yet as they turn very sluggishly compared to what I am used to, and their point of sail strength is very different from the Light Frigates or Corvettes that I have so much experience in combat with.

So… three cheers for frigates and their Captains!

Edited by LIONOFWALES
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Yep, having bow chasers is my main prerequisite, just for tagging reasons. It's why I'm upset and don't use the amazing Essex in this game because it has been denied bow chasers even tho Capt Porter explicitly writes in his journal about having them and using them with good reason. @admin :(

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4 hours ago, van der Decken said:

Yep, having bow chasers is my main prerequisite, just for tagging reasons. It's why I'm upset and don't use the amazing Essex in this game because it has been denied bow chasers even tho Capt Porter explicitly writes in his journal about having them and using them with good reason. @admin :(

Actually, just put bow chasers on belle poule and essex and you will have in the game a couple of cheap and effective frigate good for almost everything.

Maybe adding the chasers to a ship could be a perk

 

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15 hours ago, Sir Lancelot Holland said:

For the bulk of every navy it was the Frigates that were the mistress of the seas, more economical than the Lineships, they fought in many of the famous battles, and, more than a few lesser known ones too, patrolled endlessly,  they were the ultimate in blockading ships, equally at home in Blue waters, or,  inshore, wherever there was trouble you'd find a frigate, yet, there was never really enough of them to go around.

While looking at something almost completely unrelated I came across this:

https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/military-history/the-powerful-frigates-of-the-british-royal-navy/

There is, of course, nothing wrong with desiring to sail one the great ships of the line, as a group we can work our way through the small ships and sail some of the most prestigious ships in Naval history, perhaps, without much thought about the Frigates, the Jack of all trades, the true mistress of the seas.

The article you posted is a curious one, it doesn't seem very well researched and has a lot of inaccurate pop history in it, The frigate evolved from construction methods during the 16th century centred around galleys, not galleons, they also have a fair bit of their design ancestry involved in the larger galleass, especially as it was the galleass which was the first type of ship to be designed with scientific principles. Frigates began their history in Italy, then were adopted by Spain and then through them The Netherlands, France and England. Its also probably worth pointing out that Britain didn't build the finest frigates but they did typically build the most sturdy, while the best all round frigates were the ones built in France or the Italian states, with France taking most of the spotlight as one of the major naval nations of the era.

Something that does strike me as surprising with frigates is that they aren't actually much more economical than ships of the line when it comes to build and maintenance cost, they do however benefit from lower crewing costs which could actually range quite wildly during the period with typical 74s costing anywhere in the region of £35,000-£65,000 + a fitting cost of anywhere between £10,000-£25,000 while Frigates could cost anywhere between £20,000-£50,000 with fitting costs typically around £7,500-£20,000, where the lower end of costings was dominated by the 26-32 gun ships.

Its also probably worth pointing out that Britain didn't really dominate the seas until the mid to late 18th century, with power mainly residing in France and Spain, who could field larger and better supplied navies until the 7 years war when things started to turn, even during the American war for independence the British navy was outnumbered by both the French and Spanish fleets and were roughly outnumbered 3-1 during the conflict.

Hope this helps :)

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4 hours ago, van der Decken said:

Yep, having bow chasers is my main prerequisite, just for tagging reasons. It's why I'm upset and don't use the amazing Essex in this game because it has been denied bow chasers even tho Capt Porter explicitly writes in his journal about having them and using them with good reason. @admin :(

I must admit, I too, am mystified by the lack of chasers aboard USS Essex, The after battle reports from Valparaiso specifically mention the use of 12lb chasers by the USS Essex,  indeed it is apparent that the bulk of her defence  was due to those very chasers since most of the battle was conducted outside the range of her Carronades. It is also clear that the British Admiralty also authorised the use of chasers aboard her after her capture.  

 

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11 minutes ago, Sir Lancelot Holland said:

outside the range of her Carronades

outside of reach, not range. She couldn't get into position. Read Lieutenant Gardiner's diary ( HMS Phoebe ) or the very first Porter report to the Congress ( forget the propaganda written after that ).

She used 3 12 pounders on the stern ( not the bow ).

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16 minutes ago, Sir Lancelot Holland said:

 It is also clear that the British Admiralty also authorised the use of chasers aboard her after her capture.  

However, in game, we have USS Essex (right ?), not HMS Essex, as we have HMS Surprise with her British armament and not L'Unité with the French armament.

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13 minutes ago, Fluffy Fishy said:

The article you posted is a curious one, it doesn't seem very well researched and has a lot of inaccurate pop history in it, The frigate evolved from construction methods during the 16th century centred around galleys, not galleons, they also have a fair bit of their design ancestry involved in the larger galleass, especially as it was the galleass which was the first type of ship to be designed with scientific principles. Frigates began their history in Italy, then were adopted by Spain and then through them The Netherlands, France and England. Its also probably worth pointing out that Britain didn't build the finest frigates but they did typically build the most sturdy, while the best all round frigates were the ones built in France or the Italian states, with France taking most of the spotlight as one of the major naval nations of the era.

Something that does strike me as surprising with frigates is that they aren't actually much more economical than ships of the line when it comes to build and maintenance cost, they do however benefit from lower crewing costs which could actually range quite wildly during the period with typical 74s costing anywhere in the region of £35,000-£65,000 + a fitting cost of anywhere between £10,000-£25,000 while Frigates could cost anywhere between £20,000-£50,000 with fitting costs typically around £7,500-£20,000, where the lower end of costings was dominated by the 26-32 gun ships.

Its also probably worth pointing out that Britain didn't really dominate the seas until the mid to late 18th century, with power mainly residing in France and Spain, who could field larger and better supplied navies until the 7 years war when things started to turn, even during the American war for independence the British navy was outnumbered by both the French and Spanish fleets and were roughly outnumbered 3-1 during the conflict.

Hope this helps :)

In general terms, I have long believed that French builds were often better than British builds, certainly in regard to sea-keeping qualities, and, yes, there was a great deal of hype about "Britannia's wooden walls and Iron men", (the term wooden walls coming from the Greek Navy way back around the time of Thermopylae and Salamis in 480 BC), It was, I think, more to do with the way the British trained their Navy, the after effects of the the French Revolution, with the following "Terror"  as the French so eloquently describe it, also contributed to Britain's mastery of the seas, although it was a very slow process, than the quality, or, number of ships that the Royal Navy deployed.

Likewise the Spanish also built some outstanding ships, again, often better than British builds, yet, for whatever reasons,  and despite their apparently strong alliance with France were unable to bring the numerically inferior Royal Navy to submission. 

That said, one only has to look at the difficulties that the Royal Navy had fighting the the very new United States Navy, clearly, there were factors in play that seem to be lost in the mists of history. 

I rather suspect that the alliance with Portugal and Naples, with the neutrality of Venice ( if indeed, they were neutral) also had a good deal to do with how events unfolded in the Mediterranean at least.  It certainly was not by British efforts alone that we achieved domination of virtually every Ocean. 

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53 minutes ago, LeBoiteux said:

However, in game, we have USS Essex (right ?), not HMS Essex, as we have HMS Surprise with her British armament and not L'Unité with the French armament.

Yes, indeed, Sadly Essex became a Prison hulk, an unfortunate end for many captured ships that fought so well. However L'Unité was in many respects very different, she went on to not only serve France with courage and honour (as indeed the Essex did for the United States) but also for the Royal Navy as HMS Surprise, I would actually like to see L'Unité under her own French colours with her original armament in game, both ships were unique and should in my opinion be represented.

Edited by Sir Lancelot Holland
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2 hours ago, Sir Lancelot Holland said:

In general terms, I have long believed that French builds were often better than British builds, certainly in regard to sea-keeping qualities, and, yes, there was a great deal of hype about "Britannia's wooden walls and Iron men", (the term wooden walls coming from the Greek Navy way back around the time of Thermopylae and Salamis in 480 BC), It was, I think, more to do with the way the British trained their Navy, the after effects of the the French Revolution, with the following "Terror"  as the French so eloquently describe it, also contributed to Britain's mastery of the seas, although it was a very slow process, than the quality, or, number of ships that the Royal Navy deployed.

Likewise the Spanish also built some outstanding ships, again, often better than British builds, yet, for whatever reasons,  and despite their apparently strong alliance with France were unable to bring the numerically inferior Royal Navy to submission. 

That said, one only has to look at the difficulties that the Royal Navy had fighting the the very new United States Navy, clearly, there were factors in play that seem to be lost in the mists of history. 

I rather suspect that the alliance with Portugal and Naples, with the neutrality of Venice ( if indeed, they were neutral) also had a good deal to do with how events unfolded in the Mediterranean at least.  It certainly was not by British efforts alone that we achieved domination of virtually every Ocean. 

British dominance at sea is more to do with advances in complementary technology than naval design or building. They built sturdier ships better suited for brawling, they also built ships that had greater stores for longer voyage time at the expense of handling qualities. The sturdy building meant lower maintenance costs and less need for constant repair, which meant the Royal Navy could commission more ships at one time. You see this in the post capture lives of French and Spanish ships they were often brought into service but for shorter time than their home built counterparts. When it came to actual design, while they had Slade who is no doubt the greatest naval architect of the age of sail the vast majority of their hydraulic line work was done by examining French and Spanish captures while Britain worked on advancing their naval technology in other ways, most notably the carronade and copper plating, which were technologies that vastly expanded the firepower of smaller ships and longevity of deployment respectively. The answer to these technologies was met with the rather lacklustre French obusier, and vastly inferior copper sheathing. These two technologies were the real reason Britain could compete while outnumbered 3-1 in the American revolutionary war.

The difficulties in the war of 1812 are quite overstated, mainly thanks to US propaganda drawing attention to a handful of minor victories where larger US ships preyed on smaller British ships but were captured and defeated when the odds were even. Typically the great duels of the conflict we remember today are a small number of actions where the 50+ gun 24 pounder ships of the US navy outfought 38 gun 18 pounder frigates of Britain. Its also something to take into account the sheer cost of these US ships, being much larger and over 3x more expensive than the ships they captured, with build and fitting costs more akin to the heaviest ships of the European navies with the cost of the famous USS Constitution being higher than the 100 gun British first rates HMS Royal George and Victory.

Britain's ability to range in the Mediterranean was mainly thanks to Britain controlling key points within the basin, Gibraltar, The Balaeric islands, Malta etc but basing rights in Naples was also necessary. Venetian neutrality wasn't really too important, the city was still producing some of the most forward thinking designs and doctrines of the period but had clearly fallen to a 2nd rate naval power by the 18th century, although roughly akin to Sweden in projective ability.

British domination of the Oceans was mainly due to internal struggles within its competitors, The Dutch fell first, while an incredible force during the late 17th century the Dutch navy struggled to remain prominent in the 18th. Spain became too inward focussed struggling to maintain its extensive colonies, spreading its naval force thinly throughout the gains they made in the colonial era sapping funding and knocked out of the top spot thanks to the lack of homeland wood supplies and the damage caused by the wars of spanish succession and the 7 years war. France did well to maintain its navy but really it destroyed itself, beheading its most experienced admirals in the revolution and suffering strings of defeats during the Napoleonic wars, they also suffered greatly from the British blockades of which the most notable was Brest, something they never really recovered from giving the sea resoundingly to the British who maintained dominion of the seas until 1914.

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Good post, Fluffy, and while I agree with most of your points, this one is up for debate:

Quote

while they had Slade who is no doubt the greatest naval architect of the age of sail

Blaise Ollivier, Hendrik af Chapman and Jorge Juan y Santacilia would like to have a word with you ;)

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1 hour ago, Malachi said:

Good post, Fluffy, and while I agree with most of your points, this one is up for debate:

Blaise Ollivier, Hendrik af Chapman and Jorge Juan y Santacilia would like to have a word with you ;)

I honestly don't see what's so special about Chapman, as far as I can tell he only feels relevant thanks to the widespread printing of Architectura Navalis. I don't know enough about Jorge Juan but Blaise Ollivier is a good call, its something we could probably discuss in great detail in another thread. My quick thoughts are that I actually prefer Sane as an architect but personal ideology would have to still go to Andrea Gallina for the first super frigate as my favourite. Despite my opinions I still consider Slade to be the best and the icon of architecture of the age of sail era.

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Well spoken Fluffster, couldn't say it better myself.

I touched on Jorge Juan briefly in an unfinished topic concerning "Trafalgar and the Spanish Navy", a book written by John Harbron.  He's one of the great architects of the period, helping to revive Spanish shipbuilding in the mid to late 18th century.

I really feel like a trip to Italy is in order someday, there's just too little on the region concerning maritime tradition during the period, and perhaps a more intimate and thorough investigation might be in order to dig up clues where there's none to be found online.

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3 hours ago, Haratik said:

He's one of the great architects of the period, helping to revive Spanish shipbuilding in the mid to late 18th century.

And he wrote one of the major 18th scientific works on the subject, Examen marítimo teórico-práctico.

 

4 hours ago, Fluffy Fishy said:

I honestly don't see what's so special about Chapman, as far as I can tell he only feels relevant thanks to the widespread printing of Architectura Navalis.

Uh...no.  Next to maybe Jorge Juan, Chapman was the most 'scientific' ship constructor of the period, e.g. he made thorough use of the concept of meta-center for initial ship stability and Simpson's Rule for very accurate hull volume calculations, both still in use today.  And there´s his search for the best hull shape. He collected and examined dozens of ship plans (a small part of this collection can be seen in the ANM, plates LV to LX) to understand if  good sailing vessels have common features regarding hull shape, water lines, metacentric height etc. and if said features could be reproduced on new designs. This  - and his towing tank experiments - led to the development of his parabola method. This design approach enabled him not only to accurately calculate the displacement of a vessel before the first draft was made, but also guaranteed good sailing characteristics ( for more on this, see 'Systematische Untersuchung der Hydrodynamik historischer Großsegler' by Harris et al.).

But Chapman wasn´t just a theorist, he also made various improvements to the Karlskrona dockyards, introduced building procedures based on prefabricated parts and mouldings for his 20-ship program of 1782 and worked on the improvement on guns and their carriages.

His highly successful Bellona- and Gustav Adolph-classes, in addition to the french translation of his 'Tractat om Skepps-byggeriet', contributed to his already considerable reputation in Sweden and abroad.

Chapman's influence on ship building didn´t end with his death in 1808, his design principles were taught at the british Royal School of Naval Architecture in the 1820/30s and the parabola method was used for a couple of clippers in the middle of the 19th century.

 

(by the way, my favourite 18th century ship constructor is B. Ollivier ^^)

Edited by Malachi

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3 hours ago, Fluffy Fishy said:

I actually prefer Sane

I would have bet @Surcouf would be the first to say that one.

1 hour ago, Malachi said:

my favourite 18th century ship constructor is B. Ollivier

+1. Best conclusion possible to this thread 🙂

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I'm not as familiar with Ollivier, he's got a page on the French wiki but not the English one.  What ships was he responsible for?

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You may probably know Le Fleuron (1729) and La Medée (1741). The former set the standard for french 64-gun ships for decades and the latter was the first 'classic' frigate which had a lasting impact on subsequent cruiser design in Europe - and the first french frigate with the typical hexagonal hull shape.

Vessel which were built according to his design principles include La Renommée (1744), La Sirène (1744), La Panthère (1744), 74-gun Le Dauphin Royal (1738) and the 74-gun Sceptre-class (Le Monarque, L'Intrépide, all launched 1747).

He died at a relatively early age of 45 in 1746, but his influence on subsequent french naval design,  through his pupils like J.-L. Coulomb,  J.Chapelle and F.-G. Clairin-Deslaurier, would last for decades.

 

Edited by Malachi
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Wow... all these history buffs, I feel like the posts are getting a bit off topic here, anyone that has posted anything in this line should post at least something about what they love about frigates.

Three cheers for the Frigates and their Captains!

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On 3/10/2019 at 4:40 PM, Fluffy Fishy said:

France did well to maintain its navy but really it destroyed itself, beheading its most experienced admirals in the revolution and suffering strings of defeats during the Napoleonic wars, they also suffered greatly from the British blockades of which the most notable was Brest, something they never really recovered from giving the sea resoundingly to the British who maintained dominion of the seas until 1914.

Another point of view : what may matter may not be the 1% of French naval officiers who were "beheaded" in the Revolution (and who were the "most experienced ones") nor the 10% who fought against it as royalists, but the 80% of the French naval officiers who fled abroad, mainly because they were aristocrats, did not believe in the values of the Revolution and just wanted to protect their family, themselves and their lifestyle (which is understandable). Thus, the problem may also come from the fact that, before the Revolution, most/all the officiers were aristocrats, thus officiers by privilege, not men of the people. By the bye, privileges are the reason why there was a Revolution in the first place... 

Edited by LeBoiteux
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3 hours ago, LeBoiteux said:

Another point of view : what may matter may not be the 1% of French naval officiers who were "beheaded" in the Revolution (and who were the "most experienced ones") nor the 10% who fought against it as royalists, but the 80% of the French naval officiers who fled abroad, mainly because they were aristocrats, did not believe in the values of the Revolution and just wanted to protect their family, themselves and their lifestyle (which is understandable). Thus, the problem may also come from the fact that, before the Revolution, most/all the officiers were aristocrats, thus officiers by privilege, not men of the people. By the bye, privileges are the reason why there was a Revolution in the first place... 

I think in this respect the composition of the Officer corps of the French Navy was in fact little different from that of the the Royal Navy, an Officer would either be of the aristocracy, or, if not, like Nelson (who was the son of a Norfolk Parson) have patronage from an Officer who was from the aristocracy. That the French, as a nation rebelled against their lawful government and the subsequent terror that followed is no surprise, given the conditions that the common man lived under, indeed, there was always the fear that it could happen in Great Britain too.  It was I think more that the fear of the same happening in Great Britain (The regicide of Charles Stuart, King Charles I, after the British civil wars ensured that fear would be always present) that made the Napoleonic wars different to the preceding wars between France and England which were more territorial in nature. While both France and America learned how to live without a monarchy, Great Britain's republican experiment died with Oliver Cromwell, leading to the restoration of King Charles II and a constitutional monarchy.

While Napoleon Bonaparte was one of great Generals of his age, his lack of understanding of Naval warfare placed him at a severe disadvantage, as his relationship with Admiral Villeneuve showed, and, may also of contributed to the performance of the French Navy during the Napoleonic era, neither would he be the last national leader to find himself in that position.

It should also be remembered that around the same time the still new United States Navy adopted meritocracy in their Officer Corps, that a common man could command troops/sailors effectively without privilege or wealth (although patronage was still an element,  backing from a Governor or Senator for scholarships was a requirement at West Point in it's early days,  ironically, two of West Point's worst students went on to world wide fame, U.S. Grant became President and G.A. Custer became the youngest General in the Union Army) was an untried concept that sent shock waves  throughout the old world. 

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3 hours ago, Sir Lancelot Holland said:

I think in this respect the composition of the Officer corps of the French Navy was in fact little different from that of the the Royal Navy, an Officer would either be of the aristocracy, or, if not, like Nelson (who was the son of a Norfolk Parson) have patronage from an Officer who was from the aristocracy. 

At the Revolution, the French Navy was disorganized by the aristocratic naval officers fleeing abroad : these exiles represented 80% of the naval officers. Very few among the naval officers had trouble with the terror (3%). Some others fought against the revolution (10%). What's left fought for the Revolution (M. Vergé-Franceschi).

3 hours ago, Sir Lancelot Holland said:

That the French, as a nation rebelled against their lawful government and the subsequent terror that followed is no surprise, given the conditions that the common man lived under, indeed

The Revolution is about the end of the privileges of the Aristocrats and the Clergy.

Edited by LeBoiteux

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