La Preneuse, retracing the history of a dreaded warship

La Preneuse frigate, commanded by Jean-Marthe-Adrien Lhermitte who was nicknamed “Le Brave” (The Brave), was a real source of worry for the British who ruled the oceans at the time.

The frigate, heavy and hard to manoeuvre, was back from a mission in the South China Sea in 1798 where she sunk around forty British vessels before heading to Isle de France (Mauritius). The British were guarding Port Louis and La Preneuse frigate, accompanied by the corvette Brûle-Gueule, were immediately chased by five British ships. The French ships took refuge in Black River bay and resisted British assault for three whole weeks.

During the battle, Lhermitte, ever the cunning strategist, decided to disembark unused cannons to form a land battery.This step proved to be advantageous to French marines. The beach on which the artillery was disembarked from La Preneuse has been named eponymously.

Unfortunately, in 1799, chased once more upon its arrival in Isle de France, La Preneuse is thrust onto the reefs bordering Baie-du-Tombeau. Stuck, cornered by the British, the French have no means of escape. Lhermitte orders the destruction of the ship so that she does not benefit the enemy. La Preneuse rests on the seabed, but her legend lives on.