French ship Bucentaure (1804)

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...
For the Venetian vessel, see Bucentaur.
Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Builder: Arsenal de Toulon
Laid down: 1803
Launched: 1804
Commissioned: 1804
In service: 1804-1805
Out of service: 1805 (wrecked on 23 October 1805)
Captured: 21 October 1805 (Battle of Trafalgar) - later re-captured from the British prize crew
Fate: Wrecked on 23 October 1805
General characteristics
Class and type: Bucentaure class ship of the line
Displacement: 1 630 tonnes
Length: 51 m
Beam: 14 m
Draught: 6 m
Complement: 840

80 guns:
Lower deck: 30 x 36 pounder (16 kg)
Upper deck: 32 x 24 pounder (11 kg)

Castles : 18 x 12 pounder (5 kg) and 6 x 36 pounder (16 kg) carronades

Bucentaure was a 80-gun ship of the line of the French Navy, lead ship of her class. She was the flagship of Vice-Admiral Latouche Tréville, who died on board on 18 August 1804.

File:Trafalgar-Mayer mg 0586.jpg
The Bucentaure at Trafalgar

Vice-Admiral Villeneuve hoisted his flag on 6 November 1804. At the Battle of Trafalgar, on 21 October 1805, she was commanded by Captain Jean-Jacques Magendie. Admiral Nelson's HMS Victory, leading the weather column of the British fleet, broke the French line just astern of Bucentaure and just ahead of Redoutable. Victory raked her less protected stern and she lost 197 killed and 85 wounded (including Captain Magendie); Admiral Villeneuve was lucky to survive, but this effectively put Bucentaure out of most of the fight. After three hours of fighting, she surrendered to Captain James Atcherly of the Marines from HMS Conqueror.

Villeneuve is supposed to have asked to whom he was surrendering. On being told it was Captain Pellew, he replied, 'There is no shame in surrendering to the gallant Sir Edward Pellew.' When he was informed that the Conqueror's captain (Israel Pellew) was Sir Edward's brother, he said, 'England is fortunate to have two such brothers.'

In the following days, Bucentaure's crew rose up against the British prize crew, and recaptured the ship. However, she was wrecked in the storm of 23 October 1805.


  • Jean-Michel Roche, Dictionnaire des Bâtiments de la flotte de guerre française de Colbert à nos jours, tome I

es:Bucentauro fr:Bucentaure (navire français) it:Bucentaure de:Bucentaure