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• Replicating “L’Hermione”

For 250 years, in Rochefort, a town entirely built from scratch, a host of frigates, vessels and ships of all kinds have been built, outfitted et maintained. Situated midway from Ouessant and Spain, Rochefort Great Arsenal opening on to the Atlantic employed more than 8 000 men, in certain periods.

In 1927, the State’s decision to close its Arsenal will precipitate Rochefort into a state of stagnation out of which the town only emerged within the last few years. Arsenal buildings and annexes are in a state of abandonment, many of them were entirely destroyed by the nazis during the Second World War.

august 1998

The “Hermione-La Fayette” Association

Set up in the early 1990s, on the initiative of the International Sea Centre, the associations entrusted with the mission of managing the project dealing with the reconstruction of “L’Hermione”. The Research Centre for Naval Architecture and Industry has been invested with the missions of advising and engineering so as to prepare the consultation of partner firms and with the reconstitution of the ship’s blueprints. It has, besides, been appointed as the supervising organ of the reconstruction works.

Research and prospection

To replicate the frigate exactly as it used to be, it was necessary to gather archive documents such as ‘L’Hermione’s log-book(s) and the blueprints of La Concorde, ‘L’Hermione’s sister-ship which had been drawn by the Royal Navy after she had been captured. To these documents, one had to add the informations delivered by the wreck of the original ‘L’Hermione’, which was discovered in 1992, off Le Croisic, where she had sunk in 1793.

The shipyard

Specializing in the restoration of historic monuments, the ASSELIN firm in Thouars was allotted the task of ‘L’Hermione’s timber-work. The association thus took advantage of the outstanding professional qualities and experience of carpenters’ fellows of the craft, as well as of the technical collaboration of Raymond Labbé, a naval architect from Saint-Malo and of the precious historical cooperation of Jean Thomas, a former student of Jean Boudriot, a renowned historian and a specialist in naval construction.

The undertaking of the project took place in conditions and circumstances as close as possible to those which had surrounded the building of the original ‘L’Hermione’, i.e. it took place in the double graving dock of the historical naval shipyard of Rochefort, “a modern city of the XVII th century”.

The construction of the frigate started in May 1977. On July 4th,1997, the American national day, after 3 years’ research and preparation, the ship’s keel was laid. The rest of the heavy work should be completed until July 2001. The final stage ( riggings, upperworks and topsides as well as artillery) should take place between 2001 and 2004.


L’association Hermione-La Fayette; http://www.hermione.com/

Rochefort City Hall : http://www.ville-rochefort.fr with the state of the project advancement

GRAN (Group of Naval Archeological Research) which discovered the emplacement of ‘L’Hermione’s wreck : http://www.archeonavale.org/hermione/

ASSELIN Company, main partner : http://www.asselin.fr/