Naval Engagement at Flamborough Head 23 September 1779


Map Code: Ax00578

Bonhomme Richard was one of four ships under the command of Captain Paul Jones’s American squadron. Near Flamborough Head, off Yorkshire, it intercepted a British Baltic Fleet convoy of 41 merchant ships, led by HMS Serapis. At 7.20 pm, to protect its merchant vessels, HMS Serapis opened fire on Bonhomme Richard, raking it with catastrophic effect. Jones was given the opportunity to surrender, but refused. The Bonhomme Richard crew tried to board Serapis, but failed. At 8.00 it tried to cross the bows of Serapis, but again failed. Its mizzen rigging and pivots (the ropes attached to the lower sail) became tangled up in the Serapis’s bowsprit (the spur at the ship’s front). Serapis anchored into its final position where it was attacked by Alliance, under Captain Pierre Landis and surrendered. Bonhomme Richard was on fire and sinking and could not be rescued

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