French frigate Président

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...
Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Name: Président
Ordered: 25 January 1801
Builder: Nantes (Crucy company), plans by Forfait
Laid down: September 1802
Launched: 4 June 1804
Commissioned: 20 July 1804
Out of service: 28 September 1806
General characteristics
Displacement: 1130 tonnes
Length: 46 metres
Beam: 12 metres
Draught: 7 metres
Complement: 330 men
Armament: 28 18-pounders
12 8-pounders
Armour: Timber

The Président was a 40-gun frigate of the Gloire Class in the French Navy, built to a 1802 design by Pierre-Alexandre Forfait. She served with the French Navy from her completion in 1804 until late 1806 when the Royal Navy captured her. Thereafter, she served as the HMS President until she was broken up in 1815.

French service

Originally ordered under the name Minerve, she was renamed as Président on 24 December 1803.

She took part in L'Hermite's expedition, which led to her capture.


In June 1806, Captain Thomas George Shortland took command of HMS Canopus. She was the flagship for a squadron under Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Louis. On 27 September, they fell in with the Président, Capt. Gallier Labrosse, south of the Isles of Scilly, near Belle Île. The Président had been sailing with Regulus, Sybille, and Surveillante, but had separated from them on August 20.

Louis's squadron had sailed to the Bay of Biscay to await the return of Admiral Willaumez from the Caribbean. On spotting the Président, the squadron gave chase but the ships of the line were not fast enough to catch her. However, an 18-gun Cruizer class brig-sloop attached to the squadron, HMS Dispatch, Captain Edward Hawkins, was able to get within firing range. Dispatch proceeded to harry the Président with her forward guns, forcing Président to turn towards the nearest British frigate, HMS Blanche, under Captain Sir Thomas Lavie. Seeing the Président turn, Louis ordered Canopus to fire, even though the range was extreme. Realizing that the rest of the British squadron would arrive shortly, Labrosse struck his colours, surrendering to Dispatch. The Président had suffered only minor damage and there were no casualties on either side in the action.

The Royal Navy took her into service as HMS President (dropping the accent over the 'e' in her name). The frigate's design was much admired and she served as the model for a number of later frigates, notably the Seringaptam Class in the Royal Navy.


In December 1807, she was commissioned under the command of Captain Adam Mackenzie, sailing for South America on 7 May 1808 after completion conversion for British service at Plymouth. Mackenzie commanded her until 1810, apart from a brief period in 1809, when Captain Charles Schomberg temporarily commanded her off Brazil while Mackenzie temporarily commanded Bedford.

In 1810 Captain Samuel Warren took command and on 31 December sailed her for the Cape of Good Hope and thence to the East Indies. In the East Indies she took part in the operations in Java and the rest of the Dutch East Indies. Returning to the UK in late 1812 or early 1813, she then served from May 1813 in the Irish Sea, first under Captain Francis Mason, then from April 1814 under Captain Archibald Duff.


In August 1815, the Royal Navy renamed her as HMS Piedmontaise but broke her up in December of that same year.

Post script

The President was the model for three later British 44-gun frigates:


  • Rif Winfield, British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. 2nd edition, Seaforth Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84415-717-4.
  • Roche, Jean-Michel (2005). Dictionnaire des bâtiments de la flotte de guerre française de Colbert à nos jours 1 1671 - 1870. p. 360. ISBN 978-2-9525917-0-6. OCLC 165892922. [self-published source?]