La Renommée...A Unique Frigate
Few frigates of the mid-1700s displayed the sleek lines and advanced features of la Renommée (pronounced: reh-noh-may´), which was built in 1744 and carried eight pounders. Her unique nautical architecture influenced the future of ship design in England as well as in France. La Renommée sailed both sides of the Atlantic under the French and British ensigns for almost 27 years. Discover the fascinating story of la Renommée/Renown and those who sailed her. You will find the frigate’s technical specifications, cruise locations, commanders, and history here. Biographical information on the ship’s captains spans their entire careers and major achievements. As research uncovers more of la Renommée’s history, it will be added to this website.
The history of la Renommée is full of surprising incidents and noteworthy commanders over the length of the frigate’s service to two nations at war with one another. Below is an encapsulation of just two of the ship’s captains:
Captain Guy François de Coëtnempren de Kersaint took the first command of la Renommée in 1745. The frigate proved to out-run any other frigate at sea and was sent immediately on a mission to the citadel of Louisbourg in Cape Breton. The ship sailed from France three times to the great “Gibraltar of the North” as the lead scout and never once completed her mission. Battles, fogs, storms, and disease interrupted every attempt. Long after de Kersaint left la Renommée’s command, he met his demise in a most peculiar way at the Battle of Quiberon Bay.
In 1747, only three years after the launch of la Renommée, Captain Washington Shirley of the British Royal Navy encountered the frigate sailing to Santo Domingo. Nearly sinking her, he captured her in a savage fight, beginning the ship’s career under a new flag and influencing the course of British ship design. Washington Shirley not only helped change the science of ship building in England, but became a member of the Royal Society, the Grand Master of the Masonic Temple, a Member of Parliament, and the 5th Earl Ferrers, all within two years and under extraordinary circumstances!
The above captains of la Renommée/Renown are only a few of the famous captains who commanded the frigate. Click the button below to read more about the year-by-year, month-by-month, or in some cases, day-by-day lives of the extraordinary commanders of the extraordinary ship.
The list of books below deal with la Renommée/Renown or its historic period. Included in the book reviews are the page numbers where information on the frigate can be found.