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France: Ships registered as historical monuments

Last modified: 2021-05-15 by ivan sache
Keywords: historical monument |
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Flag awarded to ships registered as historical monuments - Image by Ivan Sache, 8 April 2017

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Registration of ships as historical monuments

The French Ministry of Culture offers protection to historically valuable ships by registering them as historical monuments. The first two ships were given this designation on 5 November 1982; the total figure is now well beyond a hundred (117 as of 2007).
There are two groups of eligibility criteria:
- subjective criteria: reputation of designer or builders, importance of owner, or events of historical significance. Possibly also authenticity, cultural aspects, or sponsoring.
[Patrimoine Maritime et Fluvial]

Jan Martens, 14 October 2009

Flag awarded to ships registered as historical monuments

Rgistered ships are allowed to fly a special flag (42 cm x 63 cm, price 40 euro in 2007), made of a white diamond defined by blue and red triangles (upper and lower hoist, respectively) and red and blue triangles (upper and lower hoist, respectively); in the centre is placed a black emblem consisting of the groundplan of a fortress, in contour, enclosing an upright anchor. The diamond's points touch the flag's edges.

Jan Martens, 14 October 2009

The flag can be seen hoisted, not as an ensign, on the legendary Joshua (photo).
Joshua, a steel ketch designed in 1962 by Jean Knocker, took part in 1968 to the Golden Globe Race, the first non-stop, single-handed, round-the-world yacht race. Ahead of the race by a wide margin after rounding Cape Horn, her skipper, Bernard Moitessier (1925-1994), abandoned the race and sailed to Tahiti. Moitessier's rendition of the adventure, La Longue Route, published in 1971, was sold to more than 100,000 copies within three years.
Crashed aground by a cyclone in 1982 in Mexico, Joshua was offered by Moitessier to two Americans who revamped her. Acquired by the Maritime Museum of La Rochelle, Joshua entered the port of La Rochelle on 14 September 1990, steered by Bernard Moitessier.
Joshua was registered as a historical monument on 6 September 1993.
[Maritime Museum of La Rochelle]

Ivan Sache, 26 March 2017

Ships of heritage significance


Flag awarded to ships of heritage significance - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 9 May 2021

The association Patrimoine Maritime et Fluvial (PMF - Maritime and River Heritage) was established in 1992 by Louis de Catuelan (1924-2003), Senator for the departement of Yvelines (1985-1995), and Jean-Yves Le Drian (b. 1947), then State Secretary of Sea (1991-1992; subsequently, President of the Regional Council of Bretagne, 2004-2012, 2015-2017, Minister of Defence, 2012-2017, and Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, 2017-). The association has been presided since 1997 by Gérard d'Aboville (b. 1945), who completed an Atlantic row in 1980 (72 days) and a Pacific row in 1991 (134 days).
The goal of PMF is to survey, save, preserve and promote the national maritime and river heritage not eligible for State protection.

The BIP (Bateaux d'Intér&eicrc;t Patrimonial - Ships of heritage significance) certification is prescribed by Decree No. 1,262, issued on 21 August 2007 and last modified on 21 December 2014 (text).
The BIP certification can be awarded to a ship fulfilling at least one of three criteria:
- human: the ship is the testimony of a man and/or his works;
- conceptual or technical: the ship is the testimony of a specific architectural concept or of a striking technical advance;
- historical: the ship has an outstanding record in sports competition or sailed in long gone events or with long gone techniques.
[PMF website]

Among the famous ships awarded the BIP certification are:
- Aile VI, the sailboat built in 1928 for Virginie Hériot, gold medalist in the 1928 Summer Olympics;
- Alcyone, the turbosail ship built in 1985 for the Cousteau Society;
- Joshua, Bernard Moitessier's legendary sailboat (also registered as an historical monument).

The burgee granted to ships awarded the BIP certification is trapezoidal, swallow-tailed, horizontally divided blue-green with a thin white line separating the two fields. A yellow half-sun outlined in white and emitting two white rays, charged with the blue letters "BIP" displayed vertically is placed along the hoist. A yellow slanted anchor is placed at fly.
As an example, the ship Martine was used to pick up seaweed off the northern coast of Brittany until 1999. Restored in Ploudalmézeau from 2001 to 2006, she was granted the BIP certification in October 2013 (photo).

Ivan Sache, 11 August 2018