French frigate Sémillante (1841)

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Sémillante mg 8299.jpg
Fragments of Sémillante, on display at Port-Louis naval museum
French Navy Ensign
Name: Sémillante
Namesake: "Shiny"or "sparkling"
Builder: Lorient
Laid down: 13 March 1827
Launched: 6 February 1841
Struck: 16 February 1855
General characteristics
Class and type: Surveillante-class frigate
Displacement: 2500 tonnes
Length: 54 metres (177 ft)
Beam: 14.10 metres (46.3 ft)
Draught: 3.80 metres (12.5 ft)
Propulsion: sail
Complement: 300
Armour: Timber

The Sémillante was a Surveillante class 60-gun first rank frigate of the French Navy.


Sémillante took part in the Crimean war from 1854 as a transport. In February 1855, under Captain Jugan, she departed Toulon with a crew of 301 and 392 soldiers as reinforcements for the French army[1]

On 15 February 1855, in the Strait of Bonifacio near the Lavezzi Islands, Sémillante was caught in a storm. Lost in a thick fog, a gust of wind drove the ship into rocks on Ile Lavezzi, the 200 ha main island of the archipelago. The ship sank around midnight with all hands.


For weeks, bodies of the victims washed up on the shore of Ile Lavezzi. The remains of 600 of the people on board were eventually recovered and buried in the Achiarino cemetery on the island. Only the captain's grave is marked by name. A 27-foot-high (8.2 m) pyramid of boulders was built as a remembrance of the disaster.

The wreck is cited[by whom?] as a triggering event that raised public awareness of naval disasters and spurred the creation of coastal rescue organizations[citation needed].

See also[edit]