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Aug8
HISTORIC RE-ENACTORS ADD AUTHENTICITY TO HERMIONE 2015 VOYAGE
Aug5
Say Au Revoir to The Hermione: Last Stop in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia Before Returning to France
Jul28
Lafayette at Monticello: “The Happy days I Have Past” : A Talk with Assistant Curator Emilie Johnson, Monticello
Jul21
A Talk with Ursula Reed, Chair, Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route, and Dr. Robert Selig, Historian, W3R-US
Jul18
HERMIONE MAKES A BIG IMPACT IN CASTINE, MAINE – ON BASTILLE DAY, JULY 14, 2015
Jul13
HERMIONE FRIGATE ARRIVES IN BOSTON TO TUMULTUOUS WELCOME ON JULY 11, 2015
Jul11
A Talk with David Dearinger, Curator of Lafayette: An American Icon at the Boston Athenæum
Jul10
Hermione Arrives in Historic Newport, Rhode Island
Jul9
Greenport, NY Greets Hermione with Great Fanfare July 6-7 Visit Warmly Welcomed on Long Island
Jul5
HERMIONE FRIGATE IN VIEW OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY DURING JULY 4 PARADE OF SHIPS
Jul2
Triumphant Arrival of Hermione to New York’s Pier 15 at South Street Seaport Museum
Jun29
THE HERMIONE RE-ENACTMENT DINNER AT PHILADELPHIA’S CITY TAVERN IS AN AUTHENTIC BLAST! Marquis-mania Enlivens Philadelphia Waterfront with Tall Ships
Jun25
FRENCH-AMERICAN LIAISON EXTRAORDINAIRE: A TALK WITH NICOLE YANCEY
Jun22
HERMIONE’S BENEDICT DONNELLY SPEAKS IN ANNAPOLIS
Jun17
A Conversation with Paul Raschilla, Partner, AKF Group A Supporter of Hermione’s Visit to the Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland
Jun10
Fireworks At Mount Vernon, Virginia During Hermione’s Visit on June 9, 2015
Jun8
Hermione Arrives In Yorktown With A Bang!
Jun2
Rendezvous of France’s Hermione and U.S. Navy’s USS Mitscher Off Virginia Coast
Jun1
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE ASSOCIATION HERMIONE-LA FAYETTE
May29
A Talk with Dr. Valerie Paley, New-York Historical Society on Its Current Exhibit: “Lafayette’s Return: The “Boy General,” the American Revolution, and the Hermione.”
May26
The Florida Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America Host Four Successful Fundraisers Collecting $200,000
May7
Lafayette’s Arrival on April 27, 1780 Celebrated By Massachusetts Lafayette Society On Hancock’s Wharf, Boston
May5
Hermione-Lafayette President Miles Young Addresses Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island
Apr30
WORLD PREMIERE OF LAFAYETTE,
Apr13
LAFAYETTE, THE PLAY at FIAF’s Florence Gould Hall Theater in New York
Apr7
LAFAYETTE COMES ALIVE: A TALK WITH LAURENT FERRI, CURATOR AND ADJUNCT ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, CORNELL UNIVERSITY
Apr2
Lafayette’s Key Role in the American Revolution is Celebrated in a New Society of the Cincinnati Exhibit
Mar25
FRIENDS OF HERMIONE-LAFAYETTE IN AMERICA GATHER IN PALM BEACH FOR CELEBRATORY GALA
Mar24
Gérard Araud, French Ambassador Welcomes Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America, Inc. at Washington, D.C. Reception
Mar18
PRINCE CHARLES LEARNS OF HERMIONE’S VISIT TO GEORGE WASHINGTON’S MOUNT VERNON
Mar15
Commonwealth of Virginia Declares March 14 as Lafayette Day
Mar14
Hermione Frigate Welcomes Hennessy on Board
Mar9
HERMIONE’S ARTISANAL ACHIEVEMENT
Feb18
AHOY! HERMIONE SETS SAIL TO AMERICA….AGAIN!
Feb14
French Language Students in New England Invited To Enter Hermione Contest
Jan31
Hermione-Lafayette Rallies Support in Coral Gables, Florida
Jan18
2015 – The Year of Hermione Comes to the United States
Dec23
FRANCE MAGAZINE DEVOTES COVER STORY TO THE HERMIONE!
Dec9
THE MARQUIS: LAFAYETTE RECONSIDERED
Dec8
FRIENDS OF HERMIONE-LAFAYETTE IN AMERICA SALUTE OUR ARMED FORCES ON VETERANS DAY
Dec4
LAFAYETTE SYMPOSIUM AT LYCÉE FRANÇAIS DE NEW YORK
Dec4
NYC GATHERING WITH MILES YOUNG, PRESIDENT, FRIENDS OF HERMIONE-LAFAYETTE IN AMERICA
Dec3
BRITISH TRAVEL WRITERS COMMEND HERMIONE FRIGATE PROJECT IN 2014
Nov12
ABOARD HERMIONE: MARC JENSEN’S LOG NOTES
Oct15
GALA HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIENDS OF HERMIONE-LAFAYETTE IN AMERICA ON THE USS INTREPID
Oct14
FOH-LA’S MARC JENSEN ON BOARD HERMIONE IN BORDEAUX!
Oct10
HERMIONE’S TRIUMPHAL ARRIVAL IN BORDEAUX!
Sep16
THE SIEGE WILL COMMENCE TOMORROW AT YORKTOWN
Sep8
HERMIONE ON ITS WAY TO THE ATLANTIC!
Sep6
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAFAYETTE!
Sep2
THE PERILS OF PEACE – CELEBRATING THE 231ST ANNIVERSARY OF THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES
Aug21
MARC JENSEN – HERMIONE’S “MARITIME AMBASSADOR”
Jul13
LAFAYETTE – HERO OF TWO WORLDS, THREE REVOLUTIONS
Jul3
CHEF WALTER STAIB VISITS HERMIONE TO FILM “A TASTE OF HISTORY” EPISODE
Jun25
MILES YOUNG RECEIVES NAVY LEAGUE’s LEADERSHIP AWARD
Jun11
FRENCH NAVY FRIGATE LA FAYETTE VISITS YORKTOWN COMMEMORATING FRANCO-AMERICAN ALLIANCE
Jun9
GALA CELEBRATES HERMIONE FRENCH FRIGATE OF LIBERTY ABOARD USS INTREPID on OCTOBER 14, 2014
May22
AHOY! SAVE THE DATE: OCT. 14, 2014 GALA ABOARD THE INTREPID TO CELEBRATE HERMIONE 2015 VOYAGE
Apr15
MEET ANNE RENAULT – HERMIONE’S SAILMAKER
Apr10
BEFORE NEW AMSTERDAM, NEW YORK WAS CALLED NEW ANGOULÊME!
Mar28
LAFAYETTE IN FOCUS AT UPCOMING MONTICELLO SYMPOSIUM
Mar25
CAPTAIN’S CHRONICLE NO. 7 – ANCHORS AWAY!
Mar18
YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGHT LAFAYETTE WAS A FAMOUS HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
Feb23
DRUM ROLL FOR L’HERMIONE FROM SONS OF THE REVOLUTION!
Feb16
ADOPTED SON: WASHINGTON, LAFAYETTE, AND THE FRIENDSHIP THAT SAVED THE REVOLUTION
Feb6
VISIT TO MONTICELLO BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRESIDENT HOLLANDE OF FRANCE
Feb3
FLORIDA TO SUPPORT LAFAYETTE’S 2015 HERMIONE VOYAGE
Feb2
PHILADELPHIA PREPARES FOR LAFAYETTE’S 2015 HERMIONE VOYAGE
Jan27
A FRENCH SILVER BOTTLE SLIDER: LAFAYETTE’S GIFT TO WASHINGTON
Jan16
MILES YOUNG BRINGS LESSONS OF L’HERMIONE-LAFAYETTE TO LYCEE FRANCAIS de NEW YORK
Jan14
CAPTAIN’S CHRONICLE NO. 6 – THE SPRITSAIL, SYMBOL OF ANCIENT NAVIGATION
Dec31
CAPTAIN’S CHRONICLE NO. 5: HERMIONE’S BALLAST: STABLE AND STRONG
Dec27
CAPTAIN’S CHRONICLE NO. 4: HERMIONE ARTISANS SET SAIL IN A RUSSIAN FRIGATE
Dec2
PBS – “LAFAYETTE: THE LOST HERO” AIRS 9PM, DECEMBER 3, 2013
Nov15
“RECREATING LAFAYETTE’S FRIGATE” IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
Nov11
CAPTAIN’S CHRONICLE NO. 3: POWERING THE HERMIONE
Sep26
NEW YORK WELCOMES HERMIONE-LAFAYETTE VOYAGE 2015 TO THE USA AT FRENCH CONSULATE RECEPTION ON SEPTEMBER 25, 2013
Sep25
CAPTAIN’S CHRONICLE NO. 2: GETTING THE DETAILS RIGHT
Sep25
WELCOME TO OUR BRAND NEW WEBSITE
Sep24
CAPTAIN’S CHRONICLE NO. 1: WELCOME!
Sep23
INTRODUCING OUR NEW LOGO
Sep19
AUTHENTICITY BUT WITH A TOUCH OF MODERNITY
Sep19
THE THIRD MAST IS INSTALLED
Jun15
RISING SPLENDOR
Apr4
L’HERMIONE GAINS HER FINAL TWO LOWER MASTS
Mar25
THE FIRST STAGE OF THE MAST CONSTRUCTION
Nov12
UNVEILING OF THE FIGUREHEAD
Mar31
MARCH 2012 PHOTO GALLERY BY PHILIP PLISSON
Jan20
REBIRTH OF THE BOAT LOCKS
Jan17
PREPARING FOR LAUNCH, PHASE 2: THE SHORING
Jan5
PREPARING FOR LAUNCH, PHASE 1: DISMANTLING THE TENT
Dec28
INSTALLATION OF THE ENGINES
Dec14
COMPLETION OF THE ORNAMENTS
Nov18
FLANGES FOR THE ENGINE
Nov15
END OF THE HULL’S PAINT JOB
Nov11
COMPLETION OF THE QUARTER GALLERIES
Jul8
THE RIGGING: START OF THE WORK
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE ASSOCIATION HERMIONE-LA FAYETTE
June 1, 2015

Association Hermione-Lafayette

Jean-Louis Frot, Former Mayor of Rochefort Credit :Courtesy of http://www.lanouvellerepublique.fr

Benedict Donnelly President, Association Hermione-La Fayette Credits :Courtesy of Association Hermione-La Fayette

Erik Orsenna, a distinguished writer and member of the Academie Français Credits :Courtesy of Association Hermione-La Fayette

Bernard Grasset,Former Mayor of Rochefort Credits :Courtesy of http://www.sudouest.fr

Hervé Blanché, Mayor of Rochefort. Credits Courtesy of http://www.charentelibre.fr

Maryse Vital, CEO, Association Hermione-La Fayette. Credits Courtesy of http://www.lanouvellerepublique.fr

On the eve of the Hermione’s arrival in Yorktown, Virginia on June 5, a short history of the critical role played by the Association Hermione-La Fayette—the founding organization behind the Hermione, the ship’s owner and the group responsible for the crew and for bringing her safely to the U.S. and back—is worth recalling for all the American followers of the Frigate of Freedom.

It Begins In Rochefort With Rope

The impulse behind the formation of this Association had its origins in a drive to leverage the city’s traditions and, thereby, the economy of Rochefort. Located on the Charente River, 12 miles upstream from the Atlantic, from the late 17th century until the mid-19th century Rochefort thrived as few ports as a critical base for the French Navy in the age of sail. Each vessel depended on miles and miles of cords, rigging, lines, twines, and cables of all kinds to tie, knot, thread, hang, rise and lower a ship’s numerous sails.

Rochefort was home to the world’s most impressive rope factory in this age of sail. Like Rochefort itself, the Corderie Royale de Rochefort—or the Royal Rope Factory—was constructed in the 1680’s, at the direction of King Louis XIV France, by his chief minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert.

The new town soon became France’s seafaring launching pad, whose thousands of craftsmen could build scores of battleships and frigates in record time. It was all carried out to challenge the naval supremacy of France’s arch maritime rival: Great Britain and her Royal Navy. Indeed, one writer has likened 17th- and 18th-century Rochefort to the 20th century Kennedy Space Center, in terms of assessing the former’s national security importance to the French realm and its imperial ambitions.

But as new technologies transformed sea-based commerce globally, Rochefort’s fortunes sunk into steady decline, leading eventually to a final closure of its shipyards in 1926. And, by the 1980s, the town was, frankly, economically depressed.

So to go forward, Rochefort, paradoxically, reached back to its earliest roots.

How A Knot Led To A ‘Cur Non’

Fast forward some sixty years later, Jean-Louis Frot, the then Mayor of Rochefort and a true visionary, kicked off an ambitious campaign to restore the city’s historic ship-building district and transform the Corderie Royale into a world-class museum.

Yet, a central element in this ambitious campaign was missing, a ship.

Not just any ship, but a vessel destined to reflect the glory of Rochefort and its role in world history. One frigate stood out from all the other ships ever built here: the Hermione. It was she who carried La Fayette to Boston in 1780 with news that France would support the American rebels in their fight for independence.

Begun in 1992, the Association Hermione-La Fayette was and remains in charge of the entire project. Frot was joined by Erik Orsenna, a distinguished writer and member of the Academie Française, and Benedict Donnelly, a Frenchman with an American father and who appreciates Lafayette’s legacy and the nautical importance of building an authentic, tall-ship replica of the original. Donnelly has been a driving force behind the project, through difficult at times, and good times, for twenty-five years.

Donnelly, who has served as the Association’s President since 1994, is proud of the fact that artisan craftsmen from France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Sweden have participated in her construction. Pointing to the fact that the Association now comprises some 8,000 members and counting, Donnelly observed: “There is real pride in the collective force behind this project. There have been tense moments, but we remained united.”

Indeed, it was daring challenge, mammoth in scope and collective in spirit. Mayor Frot and the city of Rochefort supported the project enthusiastically from its inception; so too did its next Mayor, Bernard Grasset, as well as Hervé Blanché, its current Mayor.

Joining Frot, Donnelly and Orsenna in this bold gamble, the Association secured not only the backing of the City of Rochefort, the Charente-Maritime department (in which Rochefort is located), and the Poitou-Charentes regional governmental authorities, but also Ségolène Royal, today French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy and former president of the Poitou-Charentes Regional Council.

What Is The Role of the Association Hermione-La Fayette?

 As both Hermione’s owner and project manager, the Association has overseen every aspect of her reconstruction. It has dealt with multiple companies involved, expert nautical historians, and a host of artisans, woodworkers, sail makers, and Hermione’s crew, just to name a few of the actors participating in this complex undertaking.

In a phrase, the Hermione became a such a large public attraction, it soon resembled the “if you build it, they will come” phenomenon—one vividly depicted in the 1989 release of Field of Dreams movie—and one brilliantly executed á la Rochefort!

Maryse Vital, CEO of the Association, said: “With 250,000 visitors a year, the Hermione is the third most visited site in Charente-Maritime and fourth in the Poitou-Charentes Region.”

 Of her immense contribution to the Association Hermione-La Fayette over the years, Benedict Donnelly paid tribute to Maryse Vital in Sud Ouest, a leading newspaper in the region, noting, “ She is the soul of our project”

As such the Association quickly evolved into a sophisticated, efficiently run business.

With more than 4.5 million French and tourists visiting since the keel was first laid, the overall budget is estimated at 25 million Euros over 17 years. Revenue from these ticket sales accounted for more than 60% of total funds raised, according to the Association. The balance of funds has been sourced from civic, department, regional and national government entities.

On the construction aspect alone, a score of more than 50 regional businesses became important contributors to the Association’s efforts, notably: Alexandre Genoud Bateaux Bois, Arkway, Asselin, Inc., Atelier Blu, Atelier Fer de Terre, Ateliers mécaniques des Pertuis, Atelier voilerie Anne Renault, Cardinaud, Chantier nautique du Vieux Port, Chantier naval des Minimes, Chaussat – restauration de meubles anciens, Chaudronnerie Générale Surgérienne (CGS), Centre de Recherche pour l’Architecture et l’Industrie Nautiques (CRAIN), Drugeon Jean-Michel, Erco, Imagibois, Joyet Pierre & Fils, Métalnéo, Ndc Foundry, Atelier Frederic Nobili, Pochon Pro, Safem, Soromap, Les forges de l’Arsenal, Voilerie Incidences, Voilerie Klein et Yacht Concept.

It should be further noted that Asselin Inc. served as the main builder of the hull from 1997 up to 2014. Thanks to the personal involvement of its CEO François Asselin— and who the Association considers its true partner—it was his team that rebuilt the Hermione based on plans of an 18th century frigate. She is, by all accounts, remarkably seaworthy.

Also notable is the fact that the Association reached out successfully to six professional high schools and several apprentice centers in the Poitou-Charentes region. This resulted in not only on-the-job training at the Rochefort dry-dock, where the Hermione was being built, but also off-site work including the creation of historic replicas such as the ship’s desks, trunks and cupboards made by an impressive list of regional school apprentices.

The Association is likewise responsible for the Hermione’s Captain Yann Cariou and his crew. The crew consists of 15 professional sailors and 155 volunteers (one-third are women!). Out of the qualified volunteers, each was handpicked from the 900 requests the Association received. All were all chosen on the basis of their stamina; their average age is 27. Most of her crew do not come from a maritime background and had never set foot on such a ship as the Hermione. They had to learn by heart all the old sailing terms, the key maneuvering expressions, get to know the ship’s 280 points of running-rigging, the procedures for setting sail, and many other demanding tasks.

Who’s Who at the Association Hermione–La Fayette?

 The Association’s boasts a distinguished Board of Directors, and are arrayed in several complementary working Committees.

Representing Civic and Regional bodies within the Association’s Regional Officials Committee are Vice President Hervé Blanché, Mayor of Rochefort; Vice President Marie-Laure Tissandier, Representative of the Poitou-Charentes Council; and Vice President Stéphane Villain, Representative of the General Council of Poitou-Charentes.

Serving on the Founding Members Committee are: Founding President Erik Orsenna; Henri Bourdereau, retired Captain; and Bruno Coussy, architect. As noted previously, Benedict Donnelly is President and Director of Communications and leads this Committee and the Association. Also serving on this Committee are Vice President Jean-François Fountaine, founder of Fountaine Pajot and now Mayor of La Rochelle; Jean-Louis Frot; and Vice President Françoise Jouanneau, former elected member of Rochefort and a hugely enthusiastic and vigorous advocate and personal champion of the project throughout.

On the Committee of Experts (Collège des Membres Agréés), there are Alain Bourdeaux, a lawyer; Paul Le Bihan, an executive with Autonomy Capital; Emmanuel de Fontainieu, is Secretary of the Association and Director of International Center of the Sea and the Corderie Royale and the author of Editions de Monza’s wonderful book on the project; Jacques Delpech, a retired banker, is Assistant Treasurer; and in the Treasury group there are: Olivier Pagezy, a financial director; Paul Le Bihan, Bank CEO, in charge of navigation and maritime issues; Claude François, a business director; Francis Latreille, a professional photographer; Sabine Renault-Sablonière, the group’s Communications Director and a descendant of Lafayette; Pierre Gras, a retired executive; Bruno Gravellier former US cultural attaché at the U.S. consulate in Bordeaux, now Superintendent on board the ship; Dominique Chatenet, retired chief policeman; Guy Gautreau, retired college Headmaster; and Evelyne Guérard, a retired business executive.

And since Ms. Royal became Minister, she has brought her support to the project by creating the National Hermione-La Fayette/Hermione 2015 Committee, co-chaired with Jean-Yves le Drian, French minister of Defense. The aim of the committee is to gather French and American institutions to help the project.

Isabelle Georget, is Chief of Marketing and Public Relations for the Association and has been the main day-to-day liaison with the team of the Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America, Inc.

Last, but not least, the Association’s Rochefort team includes eight employees—

including Mme. Lecossois and M. Godderidge—who conduct the daily management of the Association, of which 4 full-time people are in charge of coordination, administrative and financial follow-up, management of the memberships, communication, press relations, public relations, relations with the partners, and management of the gift shop.

A Project Animated by the ‘Cur Non’ Spirit of Lafayette

As the Association Hermione-La Fayette states on its website:

“So that freedom lives,

men will always have to stand up and fight against indifference or resignation.”

As the Association describes its earliest motivations to undertake this complex project—rebuilding Rochefort, rebuilding its most famous ship the Hermione— its Founders write: “La Fayette was one of them, and remains a symbol to this day. Rebuilding the Hermione – the frigate he took to go to America – is a way of paying an authentic homage to La Fayette and keep the memory of a great adventure of solidarity between people.”

The Association continues its amazing account of its formation and vision as stated on its website: “Rebuilding the Hermione means reconstituting of an element of our maritime heritage. It’s the opening of a big construction site contributing to the economy and culture of a whole region.

“Rochefort, a new town of the 17th century, was born thanks to Colbert’s decision to develop a new Royal arsenal on the banks of the Charente in order to construct, arm, supply and repair a war fleet able to resist enemies’ assaults.

“The rebuilding of an 18th century ship is integrated in the development of a new identity, with a view to providing France with a testimony of its naval past as well as with a symbol of Franco-American fraternity through a ship whose name is related to that of a man, La Fayette, a symbol of the support brought by the French to the insurgents in America.”

For more information about the Association Hermione-La Fayette, please visit:

www.hermione.com

To follow the stages of Hermione’s voyage, please visit: Click here