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Félicité was a 32-gun frigate of the French Navy, lead ship of her class. Captured by the British Royal Navy and sold to the State of Haiti, she entered Haitian service as Améthyste.

History
French Navy EnsignFrance
Name: Félicité
Namesake: Felicity
Builder: Brest
Laid down: 1 January 1785
Launched: 4 August 1785
In service: 28 August 1785
Out of service: 16 June 1809
Flag of the State of HaitiState of Haiti
Name: Améthyste
Namesake: Amethyst
In service: 1809
General characteristics
Class and type: Félicité-class frigate
Displacement: 700 tonnes
Length: 44.2 m (145 ft)
Beam: 11.3 m (37 ft)
Draught: 5.6 m (18 ft)
Propulsion: Sail
Armament:
  • 26 × 12-pounder guns
  • 12 × 8-pounder guns
  • 6 × howitzers
Armour: Timber

French serviceEdit

In 1792, Félicité traveled to the Caribbean Sea. On 29 December, she took part in the capture of the royalist brig Légère off Saint-Pierre.

On 6 February 1806, she was present at the Battle of San Domingo, from which she escaped unharmed together with two other French vessels, the 36-gun frigate Cornélie and the 20-gun ship-corvette Diligente.

The frigates Comète and Félicité, and the corvette Diligente captured and burned the American vessel Lark, Moore, master, which was sailing from Philadelphia to Jamaica.[Note 1]

In February 1809, she sailed with Troude's division to the Caribbean, armed en flûte.

In May, British ships chased two French frigates, armed en flûte and bringing supplies to Martinique, into the Basse Terre roads. The British set up a blockade, trapping Félicité and Furieuse in their shelter. By this time HMS Unique, was in poor condition – in particular she was leaky, in part from the constant firing of her guns at shore batteries. The decision was made to use her as a fireship in an attempt to destroy one or both of the French vessels. On 31 May she was sent in during the evening but the mission failed. Having been lightened of most of her stores, Unique was vulnerable to gusts of wind, and she grounded not far from one of her targets. Her captain then set fire to a train of explosives to prevent her falling into French hands. Félicité and Furieuse escaped some time later, only to end up being captured. HMS Bonne Citoyenne captured Furieuse on 5 July; Félicité's French service lasted only a few months longer.

On 18 June, HMS Latona and HMS Cherub captured Félicité. At the time of her capture, Félicité was armed with only 14 guns, but had 174 men on board. She had left Guadaloupe in company with another frigate. They were sailing to France with colonial produce. The frigate escaped through superior sailing despite Cherub having conducted a long chase.[2]

The British sold the vessel to Henri Christophe's State of Haiti the next month. The Haitians renamed her Améthyste.

Haitian serviceEdit

For reasons unknown, in January 1812, the Haitian Navy defected to the rebel Borgella, who placed a French privateer named Gaspard in command of Améthyste (recommissioned as Heureuse Réunion), a corvette, and a brig. Gaspard armed the flagship with 44 cannon and a crew of over 600 men including Haitians, Frenchmen, and Americans.

Stopped soon thereafter upon suspicion of piracy by Captain James Yeo, commanding HMS Southampton, Heureuse Réunion began the Action of 3 February 1812. Unable to close fast enough to board the more nimble Southampton and losing her mainmast, Heureuse Réunion surrendered and was dragged to Jamaica, where the British returned to the ownership of Haiti.

Notes, citations, and referencesEdit

  1. ^ The report in Lloyd's List refers to the "brig Diligente". The French navy had a brig Diligent, but she was not in the area.[1]

Citations

  1. ^ Lloyd's List, no. 4061,[1] – accessed 1 February 2014.
  2. ^ "No. 16293". The London Gazette. 29 August 1809. p. 1384.

References

  • Roche, Jean-Michel (2005) Dictionnaire des Bâtiments de la Flotte de Guerre Française de Colbert à nos Jours. (Group Retozel-Maury Millau). ISBN 978-2-9525917-0-6