Sunk in Bermuda Waters in Early 1838
Unlike L'Herminie, there were very few warships that met their ill fates on Bermuda's treacherous reefs. This may be because most warship captains were a highly skilled and cautious lot. But when a warship comes to a disastrous end and it's not due to a sea battle, one must ask, what went wrong?
For the French vessel L'Herminie, it could just have been a case of bad Karma. Launched in 1824, L'Herminie was not completed until some four years later. For a naval warship of her day, she was a monster, measuring a whopping 300 feet long and carrying 60 cannons.
In 1837 she was ordered to Mexican waters to enforce France's claims during the revolution. But upon arrival in Havana, Cuba on August 3 1837, 133 members of her crew came down with yellow fever. Figuring out that L'Herminie's crew would be useless in battle, France's high command decided to recall her back to France.
Under the command of Commodore Bazoche, L'Herminie left Havana for home on December 3, 1837. During her Atlantic crossing she encountered increasingly heavy seas. The captain decided to take shelter in Bermuda. By the time land was visible, the big ship had inadvertently wandered well inside a treacherous stretch of the Bermuda's northwestern facing barrier reef. Shortly after, L'Herminie got grounded on the reef.
Before the ship started to break up, a group of local boats from Ely's Harbour came to her assistance. Given the sea conditions, it was amazing that all 495 members of L'Herminie's crew were safely evacuated from the doomed ship.
The following day, several of the ship's stores were successfully salvaged. Today L'Herminie rests in 35 feet of water four miles west of Ireland Island.
Since her wooden hull has been down for many long years, little remains of her other than 58 of her original 60 cannons. Teddy Tucker, the famous Bermuda underwater treasure hunter, salvaged the other two cannons. The wreck is now scattered across white sand in the middle of the reef. Two cannons lay atop one another forming a cross. Surrounding the wreckage are the very coral heads that ripped the hull to pieces.
Other than the cannons, divers can also see one of L'Herminie's two massive anchors propped up against a large coral head, as well as several of her square shaped, iron holding tanks, now half eaten by the sea. They once held the ship's supply of drinking water.
Buried in the sand are some of the ship's timbers and cannon balls, as well as a collection of small artifacts such as broken glass, bottles and pottery. Although most of what was deemed valuable was supposedly salvaged, it has been said that divers can still find the odd coin or ship's utensil buried in the sand.
Some of the coral heads surrounding the wreckage are 30 feet tall. Visibility at this site is often quite excellent, sometimes reaching nearly 100 feet. The prime season for diving L'Herminie is from early May through October.
Check out shipwreck map
to get an idea about the location of this wreck in Atlantic.
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