On 10 March 1780, France’s Marquis de Lafayette set sail aboard L’Hermione for US shores to help George Washington and the Continental Army fight the British and gain American independence. Now 235 years later, an exact replica of the historic tall ship has been created by a small group of enthusiasts in France, who decided in the early nineties to recreate the original frigate and re-enact its voyage across the Atlantic.
On Saturday, 18 April 2015, after several decades of planning and meticulous craftsmanship, the authentic replica vessel will begin its 27-day, 3,819-mile maiden transatlantic voyage from the mouth of the River Charente in Port-des-Barques (France) to Yorktown (Virginia), where it will begin a two-month tour of the US east coast and Canada, calling at 12 iconic ports.
Due to arrive stateside on 5 June, L’Hermione will first dock in Yorktown, where the original ship participated in a naval blockade during the decisive battle for American independence which ultimately led to the surrender of the British army. Upon its arrival in Yorktown, there will be a 21-cannon salute by the Sons of the Revolution, musical tributes and a welcome ceremony attended by Hon. Terry McAuliffe, the Governor of Virginia.
L’Hermione will spend 5-7 June in Yorktown, during which time the public will be able to enjoy deck tours, ship events, interact with volunteer sailors, participate in educational programmes, see cultural activities including costumed re-enactments and learn about the 17-year reconstruction process, original history of the ship and role of Lafayette in the American Revolution at a Travelling Exhibit. A similar programme of events will be available in other host cities.
Following three days in Yorktown, L’Hermione will travel to Mount Vernon, the former plantation home of George Washington. Here it will anchor on the Potomac River and a Gala Dinner will be held on 9 June to celebrate the Lafayette’s Hermione Voyage 2015 project. Its final stop in Virginia will be in the port of Alexandria from 10-12 June, which will act as the gateway to Washington, DC.
By mid-June, L’Hermione will move up the coast to Maryland. Here it will make two stops, first in the state capital, Annapolis (16-17 June), which is home to the US Naval Academy, and then in Baltimore (19-21 June), where L’Hermione will meet the full fleet of Tall Ships America. Welcome ceremonies will be held in both locations by the cities’ mayors.
After touring the Capital Region, L’Hermione will sail north to Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), New York (New York), Greenport (New York), Newport (Rhode Island), Boston (Massachusetts), Castine (Maine), and make a final stop in Canada’s Lunenburg in Nova Scotia, before returning to France.
Matt Gaffney, President and CEO of Capital Region USA comments; “We are delighted to be welcoming the new replica of L’Hermione to the Capital Region in June. It’s a project that we have followed closely for many years and we are very excited to see it finally set sail. We have a full programme of events planned for the ship’s time in the Capital Region and are sure visitors will be fascinated to get aboard the ship and learn about its history and heritage.”
For more information on L’Hermione and its voyage, visit www.hermione2015.com
To find out more about the Capital Region USA, visit www.capitalregionusa.co.uk
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13 April 2015