From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division
Today is National Best Friends Day – so, we wanted to share a few small examples of the enduring friendship between America’s Navy and America’s first Ally, France. As SECDEF Carter stated, “for more than 200 years the United States and France have stood together in friendship. We have stood for the common good and security of all nations. We have never stood closer than we do now. Vive la France.”
In addition to five ships that bear or have borne French names, take a moment to check out the four links to blogs posted here during the visit to the U.S. of the replica of the Revolutionary War era French naval ship L’Hermione.
Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6)
The multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), commissioned on Aug. 15, 1998, is the third U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. She takes her name from a French translation of Benjamin Franklin’s nom de plume, “Poor Richard.” When John Paul Jones received the frigate Duc de Duras from the King of France, he renamed the former French East Indiaman Bonhomme Richard to honor Franklin, who was serving as the American Commissioner at Paris whose famous almanacs had been published in France under the title Les Maximes du Bonhomme Richard.
Louisiana (SSBN 743) The fleet ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743), commissioned Sept. 9, 1997, is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. She takes her name from the state Louisiana which was originally named by the French to honor King Louis XIV. Louisiana was admitted to the Union April 30, 1812 as the 18th State.
New Orleans (LPD 18) The amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans (LPD 18), commissioned March 5, 2007, is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. She takes her name from the largest city in Louisiana. The city was established in 1718 by explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne and named for the then-Governor of France Duc d’Orleans. The ship also honors the war of 1812 victory of Andrew Jackson, in which small naval forces under Commodore Daniel Todd Patterson played a large role.
USS Normandy (CG 60)
The guided missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), commissioned Dec. 09, 1989, is the first U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. She takes her name from the World War II allied landings on the coast of France, northeast of Brittany, on June 6, 1944 (D-Day) in Operation Neptune/Overlord. It was the culmination of three years of planning and preparation by Allied forces. Landing in the face of determined German resistance, units of the British Commonwealth and U.S. armies established a beachhead, defeated German counter-attacks, and eventually broke out into a fast-moving campaign in France. By September 1944, Allied forces had liberated most of France and were poised to cross the Rhine river into Germany itself. In conjunction with Allied forces in northern Italy, and Soviet armies moving into Poland and the Balkans, the total defeat of Nazi Germany was in sight.
ex-USS Lafayette (SSBN 616)
The fleet ballistic missile submarine USS Lafayette (SSBN 616), commissioned April 23, 1963, is the second U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. She takes her name from Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, born on Sept. 6, 1757 at Chateau Chavaniac Auvergne, France. He entered the French Army at age 14, and left France in 1777 to offer his sword to assist the American colonies in their War for Independence from Great Britain. His skillful maneuvering that played a major part in the defeat of the British at the siege of Yorktown in 1781 climaxed his brilliant military contributions to the colonists’ cause. He returned to France after the conclusion of the conflict with the undying gratitude of the American people.
For more information about the relationship Lafayette helped forge between two nations, check out:
Lafayette’s Dedication to Pursuit of Liberty Pays Off for U.S. Intrigue and danger. Adventure and adversity. Disguises and deception. An escape with an assist from an innkeeper’s daughter. Fueled by passion and courage, bravery and commitment, love and honor, all wrapped up in a teenage French nobleman for whom cities, towns and streets would be named in America.
French Frigate L’Hermione Ferries Lafayette to America It took 11 months to build the Concorde-class frigate L’Hermione at Rochefort, France. Shipwright Henri Chevillard designed the light frigate to be fast and maneuverable while carrying 12-pound guns. Under the command of Lt. Louis-René Levassor de Latouche Tréville, she completed sea trials in 1779 in the Gulf of Gascony. Neither would know at the time the ship would be best known for her service to America and the Frenchmen she sailed to America, rather than France.
Series of Miscues Allows French Victory at Virginia Capes On Sept. 5, 1781, a French fleet of 24 ships of the line engaged a British fleet of 19 ships of the line in the Battle off the Virginia Capes. The French fleet prevented the British fleet from relieving the besieged army of Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis, 2d Earl Cornwallis, at Yorktown, Va., leading to the eventual surrender of some 7,000 British troops to the combined American and French arms. French,
American Alliance Hastened End of Revolutionary War Proving that partnerships mattered in our countries infancy, during the American Revolution, the American colonies faced the significant challenge of conducting international diplomacy and seeking the international support it needed to fight against the British.