Two tall ships, one from Portugal the other from France, are visiting Southern New England this week. Each ship is rich with historical significance and has ties to the United States.
The impressive French Navy Frigate L’Hermione got a warm welcome at Fort Adams in Newport Wednesday. This ship is a handcrafted replica of the one Marquis Lafayette sailed from France to the U.S. in the 18th century to deliver critical aid that helped shape the nation’s future.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for us to reflect upon that all too easy to forget history of the French support to the United States in our American war of independence,” said Rear Admiral P. Gardner Howe, Pres. of U.S. Naval War College.
“She was directly under command of the Massachusetts council so she was the first U.S. Navy ship,” said Yann Criou, Captain of the L’Hermione.
The N.R.P. Sagres also drew a big crowd when it sailed into Massachusettes Wednesday morning. The educational training ship of the Portuguese Navy is visiting New Bedford.
“She was beautiful,” said one visitor. “It took my breath away.”
“It touches your heart,” said another.
The stop in at the Port of New Bedford is just one of four in the U.S. for the Sagres, and acts as a good will building exercise. It connects Portuguese people with their homeland while strengthening the countries bond with the Whaling City.
“We have a number of relationships with Portugal, business and otherwise and visits like this help cement those relationships,” said Jon Mitchell, Mayor of New Bedford.
Both ships will be open to the public for tours this week.