Photo from Wikimedia Commons by Jp.sembely
Built in 1779, the Hermione was a 216-foot, 32-gun pride of the new French Navy. It had a copper-bottomed hull that made it able to out-run every ship it encountered. As the Smithsonian put it, “the Hermione could out-sail any ship it couldn’t out-shoot.” This fact proven when the English could only catch its sister ship, the Concorde (this capture would prove helpful in the 1997 reconstruction of Hermione).
In March 1780, the ship set sail from Rochefort, France to Boston carrying Gilbert du Mortier and the Marquis de Lafayette back to America. The Marquis at the time was sending word to George Washington that France would be sending an arms, ships and men to aid in the Revolutionary War effort. Lafayette fought tirelessly with the French King to help America in its fight for freedom, and for that he is well remembered with scores of towns and streets named after him (Fayetteville, North Carolina, Fayette, Maine, Lafayette, Oregon, just to name a few).
After initial fundraising by the Hermione-Lafayette Association, construction of a replica began in 1997 with an April 2015 launch in mind. Plans from the English captured Concorde were used to help build the replica, and in 2014, trials began for a transatlantic voyage that would mimic the voyage Lafayette took in 1780. The ship, a three-masted, 32-gun frigate made its way to America in 2015.
On July 1st, the ship docked into the South Street Seaport. A New York Times article chronicles the fan-fare surrounding the ship’s arrival, and the elaborate measures taken to make the voyage and experience as it was back during Lafayette’s time.