French ship Languedoc (1766)
The Languedoc, dismasted by the storm the night of the 12th, attacked by HMS Renown the afternoon of 13 August 1778
|Builder:||Arsenal of Toulon|
|Launched:||15 May 1766|
|In service:||17 January 1778|
|Fate:||Scuttled in Venice|
|Class and type:||Saint-Esprit class ship of the line|
|Length:||59.8 m (196 ft)|
|Beam:||14.9 m (49 ft)|
|Draught:||7.5 m (25 ft)|
The Languedoc was a ship of the line of the French Navy and flagship of Admiral d'Estaing. She was offered to King Louis XV by the Languedoc, as part of the Don des vaisseaux, a national effort to rebuild the navy after the Seven Years' War. She was designed by the naval architect Joseph Coulomb, and funded by a don des vaisseaux donation from the Estates of Languedoc.
Ordered in Toulon, Languedoc took several years to complete due to a lack of timber in the shipyard, already busy building Zélé and Bourgogne, and with the orders of Marseillois and Provence in queue.
In 1776, France decided to intervene in the American War of Independence. Admiral d'Estaing was ordered to bring the fleet to the Americas. He set his flag on the Languedoc, after her upgrade to 90 guns. His 12-ship fleet set sail on the 18 April 1778. The fleet reached New York on 8 July 1778, and Languedoc landed the French chargé d'affaires.
On the 10th of August, the French fleet encountered the English fleets of Admirals Howe and Byron. A tempest broke out, and the Languedoc lost her rigging and steering. The 50-gun Renown raked her, but she was saved by the timely arrival of a French squadron led by Suffren.
At the Battle of the Saintes, the Languedoc was following the flagship Ville de Paris. The French fleet was parted in two, and the Languedoc eventually fled the battle, leaving de Grasse to be captured. The Languedoc then joined with La Pérouse, and reached Brest on the 28 June 1783. Argelos was tried for his conduct at the Saintes and found innocent, de Grasse being found ultimately responsible.
The Languedoc was refitted and upgraded by engineer Jacques-Noël Sané. On the 5 September 1792, she set sail under Admiral de Latouche Tréville. She took part in the campaign off Italy, and was badly damaged in the tempests of December; from 21 to 23, Scipion had to assist. On the 7 February, she took part in the landing of troops in Sardinia.
She sailed back to Toulon and undertook extensive repairs. Toulon fell to the hands of the English and was retaken by the French. The Languedoc, being deemed unusable, was not destroyed when the English left the city. She was renamed Antifédéraliste at the height of Robespierre's power, and renamed again to Victoire at the Thermidorian Reaction.
As Victoire, under captain Savary, she took part in the campaign off Italy, where she confronted Nelson's squadron. She served off Canada in 1796, returned to France, and was deemed too old to take part in the landing in Ireland.
She was used as a floating barracks off Venice, where she had been scuttled.
Notes and references
- Diaz de Soria, p. 9
- Troude, op. cit., p. 13.
- Roche, vol.1, p.408
- French navy records at Toulon BB4: Record of the ship La Victoire
- The "Languedoc" (1761–1798), history of an XVIIIth century Ship of the Line
- Diaz de Soria, Ollivier-Zabulon (1954). Le Marseillois, devenu plus tard le Vengeur du peuple. F. Robert et fils.
- Troude, Onésime-Joachim (1867). Batailles navales de la France. 2. Challamel ainé.