French frigate Hébé (1782)

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John Christian Schetky, HMS Amelia Chasing the French Frigate Aréthuse 1813 (1852).jpg
Proserpine, sister-ship of Hébé
Kingdom of France
Name: Hébé
Namesake: Hebe
Builder: Saint Malo[1]
Laid down: December 1781 [1]
Launched: 25 June 1782 [1]
Commissioned: August 1782 [1]
Fate: Captured by the Royal Navy in the Action of 4 September 1782
General characteristics
Class and type: Hébé-class frigate
Displacement: 700 tonnes
Length: 46.3 m (152 ft)
Beam: 11.9 m (39 ft)
Draught: 5.5 m (18 ft)
Complement: 297
  • 26 x long 18-pounders
  • 8 x long 8-pounders

Hébé was a 38-gun of the French Navy, lead ship of the Hébé-class frigate.

French Navy career[edit]

Soon after her commissioning under Captain de Vigny,[2] Hébé was tasked to escort a convoy from Saint Malo to Brest and protect shipping from the depredations of the British Royal Navy in the context of the Anglo-French War.[1]

In the Action of 4 September 1782, she was chased by the frigate HMS Rainbow, whose 32-pounder chase guns shot away her wheel and mortally wounded her second captain Yves-Gabriel Calloët de Lanidy. The weight of the ball made de Vigny mistake Rainbow for a disguised ship of the line. Even though the first shots had shown that Rainbow 's guns had a shorter range than Hébé's stern chasers, de Vigny never altered his course to take advantage of the longer range of his guns by firing back a full broadside. Later in the morning, the foremast of Hébé was seriously damaged and another man killed. An hour and a half later, when Rainbow was about to comme alongside, de Vigny could only fire his four of five most rear port guns and immediately struck his colours.[3]

British Royal Navy career[edit]

The Royal Navy took Hébé into service first as HMS Hebe.

On 3 July 1795 Melampus and Hebe intercepted a convoy of 13 vessels off St Malo. Melampus captured an armed brig and Hebe captured six merchant vessels: Maria Louisa, Abeille. Bon Foi, Patrouille, Eleonore, and Pecheur. The brig of war was armed with four 24-pounders and had a crew of 60 men. Later she was identified as the 4-gun Vésuve. The convoy had been on its way from Île-de-Bréhat to Brest.[4] Seaflower, Daphne and the cutter Sprightly shared in the prize and head money.[5] The Royal Navy took Vésuve into service as HMS Vesuve.

On 24 December 1805, the Navy renamed Hebe HMS Blonde.

On 15 August 1807, Blonde, Captain Volant Vashon Ballard, captured Dame Villaret after a chase of 13 hours. She was armed with an 18-pounder gun and four 9-pounder carronades, and had a crew of 69 men. She had been out twenty days but had taken no prizes.[6]


The Royal Navy paid off Blonde in July 1810. She was eventually broken up at Deptford in June 1811.[7]

Notes, citations, and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Roche, vol.1, p.238
  2. ^ Joseph Pierre de Vigny (1742-1812). His elder brother Léon Pierre (1737-1816), chevalier de Vigny, was also on board, as a « volontaire d'honneur » (honour volunteer). Léon Pierre became, in 1797, father of the future poet Alfred de Vigny.
  3. ^ Jahan, François (2005). La frégate l'Hébé et la Guerre d'Indépendance américaine 1782 deux marins, un mystère (in French). Paris: Guénégaud. ISBN 2-85023-123-1.
  4. ^ "No. 13794". The London Gazette. 7 July 1795. p. 721.
  5. ^ "No. 13957". The London Gazette. 3 December 1796. p. 1174.
  6. ^ "No. 16077". The London Gazette. 17 October 1807. p. 1379.
  7. ^ Winfield (2008), p. 141.
  • Roche, Jean-Michel (2005). Dictionnaire des bâtiments de la flotte de guerre française de Colbert à nos jours 1 1671 - 1870. p. 238. ISBN 978-2-9525917-0-6. OCLC 165892922.
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1-86176-246-1.