the french shipping wars


WWII - French submarine “Surcouf”

Before the Second World War, the Surcouf was the largest submarine in the world. Not only was she armed with torpedoes, she also had two 8 inch (203m) cannons mounted in a turret forward of her conning tower and a airplane housed in a watertight, pressure resistant hanger behind the conning tower. Having avoided falling into German hands by escaping to the United Kingdom , the Surcouf fought along side the Free French Forces During the Second World War. On February 18th, 1942 she sank with all hands lost following a collision with a US merchant man in the vicinity of the Panama Canal.

Specifications and Info:

Launched: November 18th, 1929.

Commissioned: December 15th, 1932.

Fate: Sank as the result of a collision on February 18th,1942.

Displacement: 2,880 tons/4,304 tons submerged.

Engines: Two diesel engines delivering 7,600 horsepower and two electric motors delivering 3,400 horsepower.

Maximum Speed: 18.5 Knots(10 Knots Submerged)

Range: 12,000 Nautical Miles at 10 Knots.

Crew: 150.

Armament: 6 x 22 inch Torpedo Tubes (10 Torpedoes). 4 x 16 inch Torpedo Tubes (4 Torpedoes), 2 x 8 inch guns, 2 x 1.5 inch anti-aircraft guns, 4 x 0.5 inch anti-aircraft guns, 1 Aircraft.

Diving Depth: 330 feet.

Length/Beam/draft: 360 ft, 11 in /29 ft, 6in /23 ft 7 in.

The British engage the French fleet off the coast western coast of France during the Battle of Quiberon Bay, on November 20, 1759. Their stunning victory hamstrung the French navy, one of a string of victories that would give 1759 the epithet “Annus Mirabilis”.

(Royal Museums Greenwich)

The Silent Mary and the Couronne

The Couronne (which means “Crown” in French) was the first Man Of War built by the French for the French Navy, and was launched in the early 1630′s. She was 70 metres long, with 68 guns. The Silent Mary is uncannily similar to the Couronne, in that it is the exact same design, right down the 6 castle-like towers located near the bow and stern of the ship. The biggest differences, however, is that the Couronne was a real ship, and the Silent Mary is fictional, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the designer of the Silent Mary for the POTC5 film took alot of inspiration from this French warship. The Silent Mary is also alot larger, is equipped with more weapons, and the towers on The Silent Mary are alot larger, with 2 guns in each. 

The Couronne: 

Model of the Couronne showing 2 of the four towers located on the stern (note unlike the Silent Mary, they do not contain weapons)

Dear shippers! Please don't start World War III with your ship wars!

This world already has 99 problems (or more). Please don’t make ship wars one of them.

  • It doesn’t matter when one ship is canon over the other. 
  • It doesn’t matter if you don’t like straight ships.
  • It doesn’t matter if you don’t like yaoi/yuri ships.
  • You can disagree with ships all you want.
  • But shoving your ship up in other people’s throats and forcing them to ship your ship is UNACCEPTABLE.
  • Disliking a same-sex ship doesn’t necessarily make one a homophobe.
  • Disliking an opposite-sex ship doesn’t necessarily make one a heterophobe.
  • If you dislike a ship, don’t confront the shipper!
  • Let them be.
  • Mind your own business.
  • Focus on what ship you really enjoy the most!
  • You can say “I don’t like this ship because…” I mean this is a free country. You can state your opinions if you want to, but make sure you don’t hurt anybody.
  • You can state why you don’t like the ship, but don’t whine and be all like “I HATE THIS SHIP SO MUCH BECAUSE EEEWWW THEY ARE [insert reason here]. THOSE WHO SHIP THESE COUPLE ARE STUPID/LUNATICS/OUT OF THEIR MINDS/HAVE BAD TASTE OF CHOOSING COUPLES/etc." This is a NO-NO! STOP!
  • What matters is you all are united in one fandom.
  • It’s for you guys to talk about and enjoy and escape from reality for a little bit.
  • Your fandoms let you communicate with one another.
  • Your fandoms should be your happy place.

    That’s all for now! Welp, happy shipping, you guys!

Luxury Liner Row, New York, October 1939.

Seen here (L-R) are the SS Normandie, now a war refugee, the RMS Queen Mary, in troopship colors, and WWI veteran RMS Aquitania, also ready for action. The following Spring, QM’s sister ship Queen Elizabeth joined in, and for two weeks, the three largest liners in the world were moored side by side.

(Life Magazine Archive)

Exposing the Real Treasure of the Infamous Pirate Blackbeard

Edward Teach is better known as Blackbeard. He was a notorious English pirate. Little is known about this early life, though he may have been a sailor on privateer ships before settling on the island of New Providence. This was a base for Captain Benjamin Hornigold, whose crew Teach joined sometime around 1716. Hornigold placed him in command of a sloop he had captured, and the two engaged in numerous acts of piracy. The search for the treasure of the infamous pirate continues to draw attention, although some archaeologists say that the real treasure has already been found.

Things You Learn Listening to Hamilton by song (Act 1)
  • Alexander Hamilton: Alexander Hamilton was a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence. 
  • Aaron Burr, Sir: Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton both went to Princeton College. 
  • My Shot: …uh…how to spell the name Alexander.
  • The Story of Tonight: …Beer still existed in 1776.
  • The Schuyler Sisters: There are three Schuyler sisters, Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy. They are rich. (Editor’s Note: Three? Are you sure?)
  • Farmer Refuted: Samuel Seabury thought the revolution was dumb.
  • You’ll Be Back: King George expected the revolution to die down pretty much immediately.
  • Right Hand Man: The revolution did not get off to a great start. George Washington made Hamilton his right hand man. 
  • A Winter’s Ball: Straight white boys were still gross in the winter of 1780
  • Helpless: Alexander Hamilton married Eliza Schuyler.
  • Satisfied: Oh dang but Angelica Schuyler was also pretty into him.
  • The Story of Tonight (Reprise): Alexander Burr got promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Also he was screwing around with the wife of a British officer.
  • Wait For It: Burr’s side piece was named Theodosia. Also he was a huge coward.
  • Stay Alive: The revolutionary army had to start fighting a guerilla war with tactics like attacking at night and stealing their stuff because they were so screwed on an even plane. Also screw Charles Lee, he almost ruined everything for everyone at the Battle of Monmouth. 
  • Ten Duel Commandments: Everything about how duels work. 
  • Meet Me Inside: Don’t call Alexander Hamilton “son”.
  • That Would Be Enough: Eliza got preggers.
  • Guns and Ships: The french sent guns and ships and that turned the tide of the war. 
  • History Has Its Eyes On You: Washington’s first command was a disaster, oof. 
  • Yorktown: The Battle of Yorktown took place in 1781. How did they know that their plan would work? They had a spy on the inside, that’s right, HERCULES MULLIGAN. After a week of fighting, the British surrendered. 
  • What Comes Next: LMAO King George was nuts.
  • Dear Theodosia: Burr had a daughter named Theodosia and Hamilton had a son named Philip. They both thought their children were The Shit™. 
  • Non Stop: After the war Burr and Hamilton went back to NYC and both became lawyers. Hamilton wrote like he was running out of time. Hamilton was chosen for the Constitutional Convention. Also oh snap Angelica married rich and moved to London. Alexander joined forces with James Madison and John Jay to write a series of essays defending the new United States Constitution, entitled the Federalist Papers. The plan was to write a total of 25 essays, the work divided evenly among the three men. In the end, they wrote 85 essays in the span of six months. John Jay got sick after writing five. James Madison wrote 29. HAMILTON WROTE THE OTHER FIFTY-ONE. Also George Washington made Hamilton his Treasury Secretary. 

America’s Forgotten War with France,

During the American Revolution the French were close allies with the early United States, supplying the country with weapons, gunpowder, cash, while harassing British forces around the world.  However by 1797, relations between the United States and France had soured.  The French Monarchy had been toppled and replaced with the French Republic.  Many Federalists in the US government were wary of the French due to the bloodshed and chaos that had occurred during the French Revolution. Then the US signed the Jay Treaty in 1794, which opened the US up to trade with its former enemy Great Britain.  This further angered the French, who was then at blows with Britain.  Finally in 1797 the French recalled all their loans owed by the United States.  The US refused to pay however, citing that they owed the money to the French Monarchy, not to the new French Republic.

The refusal of the US to pay off its loans was the last straw.  While France never formally declared war, the French Government began issuing letters of marque to French privateers giving them permission to raid American ships.  By then the United States had developed a far reaching network of merchant contacts and shipping routes, with a large merchant fleet that numbered in the thousands.  However, the US had no navy, selling off its last warship in 1785.  Thus American merchant ships were easy prey for French privateers, many of whom became wealthy due to their raiding enterprises.

Helpless against the French privateers, at the end of 1797 Secretary of State Thomas Pickering had the misfortune of announcing to Congress that 316 merchant ships had been captured by the French in the past 11 months.  Shocked by the losses, Congress authorized a rebuilding of the US Navy.  Overnight a navy consisting of 18 frigates each was built on a shoestring budget.  Most of the frigates were former transports and merchant ships that were purchased by Congress and converted into warships.  By 1798, the Americans were fighting back, and several pitched naval battles occurred between American warships and French privateers.  By 1799, the US Navy had managed to capture or damage a number of French privateers.  The only loss that occurred was USS Retaliation, which was captured by the French, but quickly recaptured several months later.  In response to American resistance against the raids, the French Government issued more letters or marque against American ships, and French raids intensified in number.

The Quasi War ended in 1800, when France’s new First Consul, Napoleon Bonaparte, ended French raids against the United States.  Bonaparte had a number of reasons for doing so, first and foremost, France was too busy with events in Europe to devote resources to a war against the United States.  By then the US Navy and Revenue Cutter Fleet  had captured 85 French vessels.  It was no victory, however, as the French had captured or destroyed over 2,000 American merchant ships. The war devastated the American shipping industry, allowing Britain to dominate the waves for decades to come.  

The French pre-dreadnought battleship Bouvet, in the Dardanelles. It was assigned to escort troop convoys through the Mediterranean at the start of the war. In early 1915, part of a larger group of combined British and French ships sent to clear Turkish defenses of the Dardanelles, Bouvet was hit by at least eight Turkish shells, then struck a mine, which caused so much damage, the ship sank within a few minutes. While a few men survived the sinking and were rescued, nearly 650 went down with the ship. 


Lord Anson’s victory off Cape Finisterre by Samuel Scott.

May 14th 1747 – The First Battle of Cape Finisterre saw 14 British ships of the line under Admiral George Anson attack a French 30-ship convoy commanded by Admiral de la Jonquière during the War of the Austrian Succession. 

The British captured 4 ships of the line, 2 frigates and 7 merchantmen, in a five-hour battle in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Finisterre in northwest Spain. One French frigate, one French East India Company warship and the other merchantmen escaped.

The French ironclad Marengo, a product of the late-1860s. The French had been the main attempt at challenging British naval supremacy through the decade (The US possessed the largest ironclad fleet, but mostly they were shallow-water monitors - not a single example of what the British would consider first-class, and after the end of the American Civil War, most were scrapped. With 48 ironclads at peak, the US Navy was down to 16 in 1875), but the Marengo stands as an example of why they continued falling behind for the most part. While the British had begun to build their almost all their new ships with metal hulls, as late as 1873 the French continued to build wooden hulls covered in iron plating. While nearly thirty British ships were all metal construction, the French had only two at that point.

The loss in the Franco-Prussian War would further set French shipbuilding back, and by the time funding had returned in the 1880s, they were to far behind to have nay hope of rivaling the British, as new construction barely could even replace the large number of outdated ships in the fleet.