Marinearchaeology & research by dr. Gaetan Algoet

                                      La Viette (alias Le Conquérant)


The story tells that she had the payrol on board of the soldiers in Saint Dominique. In september 1802 she broke in two and sunk in one hour. When you know the story told, there are some questions :

How can a ship of 14m large sink completly in one hour in water of  maximum 10m depth?

Why is there no shipstimber found on the site?

Why are there no shipcannons found but only two cannons from artillery of landtroops?

This document from the French archives proves that Le Conquérant was disarmed in september, october 1802(the time the story told us she sunk in the Dominican Republic)

What happened? What did they wrong in their research?

What I found out whas that everything what the researchers found was correct. It was only bad translated and the interpretation was wrong. The story was too beautifull to be true. I have done researche after "Le Conquérant" and even found letters from the captain (Cpt Malin) to the minister of his voyage to Saint-Dominique in 1802.

Le Conquérent and the Palayo were two sisterships constructed in 1791 in Cartagena under the name Palayo and Conquistador. They had 74 guns each, lenght 53m(47.5m on the keel) and 14.35m wide The depth hold was 7.35m and she had three masts. In 1801 both ships were sold to France without cannons. In december 1801 and januari 1802 both ships were transformed from 74-gun ship to 66-gun ship to fullfill the latest French standards. This standard was to transport more troops

There were : 26 pieces of 24pound, 28 pieces of 12pound and 12 pieces of 6 pound canons.


Plans of Pelayo.






 The Captain of the ship was Cpt Malin, born in Paris the 16th december 1755 and died in Brest the 23rd september 1816. From the 10th april 1802 he became the cpt of Le Conquérant and did his mission to Saint-Dominique. The 23rd may 1802 Le Desaix sailed of from Brest followed by cpt Malin with his "Le Conqérant". Ass cargo the ship had the 77e demi brigade and a Polosh legion in a total of1.600 soldiers, troops to support the fight against the black revolting slaves. After leaving the harbour of Brest, which is the homeport of "Le Conquérant", they encoutered bad winds. At Groins, in the gulf of Biscaya, one mile and a half of the Pierre-Crotchets, winds jumped from east-southeast to southwest-west. Due to these winds to topsails have taken away and torn into thousand pieces. The situation was alarming because of the proximity of the danger and the falling night, but the wind haven't increased. During the following day, the 24th may, Le Conquérant joined Le Desaix who sailed of from Brest some hours before "Le Conquérant". 47 individuals of all groups and classes being part of the staff, crew and passengers of Le Desaix where transfered to their ship and continued the voyage to Saint-Dominique. The annoyances felt in the gulf of Biscay forced the captain to do some repairs because the ship had some damage like the breaking of the bars of two big parots.

But in spite of that captain Malin of "Le Conquérant" cann't stop from returning so much justice to the quality of the new bought Spanish vessel in the sweetness of her movements, speed and the inappreciable quality to rise to the wind "Le Conquérant" had some advantages over "Le Desaix" her circumstances of bad weather and in her space. "Le Conquérant" was not some in the same way on the pace of the tail winds, then the advantage remained undecided, but to sea in Madeira, captain Malin found a blade of the north that made to roll and to tire the vessels to the point to give him all to fear for her mature.

The topmasts badly pegged on the long rose up on more of 8 inches: Captain Malin was obliged to pierce the topmasts and to make some rotures on their bolsters and made longer which he made tighten by two corners made of wood. The pickets made of iron used by the spaniard for the link of these pieces persuade captain Malin  that the mast had to be removed when returning home in Brest, France. Even the other masts had suffered during the winds in the gulf and had some little damage.

The small winds, the annoyances prolonged the crossing and made it last forty days instead of the normal thirty days.. ''Le Conquérant'' finally arrived in Cap (Saint-Dominique) the 14 messidor (2nd July 1802) but he coudn't enter the harbour before the 15th messidor(3rd July 1802) due to a mistake of the pilot. In spite of the big heat, the troops as well as the crew arrived healthy with the exception of 2 individuals embarked with incurable illnesses and some others attacked by light fevers.

The captain gave knowledge of his instructions to the Commander Lallegmand, ordering the colony at the Cape and notably of the 4th thus conceived paragraph: "If the captain-general in the colony was where you would loosen. First you will give him knowledge of your mission, will hand him the packets(no exact description of the content found(could be the 125.000 gold coins)) and will take his orders, without wasting time in order to retrun you meadows of the commander-in-chief of the naval strengths that will make you know his intentions on your ulterior destination"

Commander Lallemand transmitted to the general Leclrec the paragraphs of the captain's instructions, his state of situation to live some and in men, the situation of the cockle of the vessel, her mature and her rigging.

By the report of the captain he will have recognized that the precitation to transmit him the situation in Europe prevented the vistit in Brest. The mature in her manuals, as well as the sleeping manoevres of the rigging whose Spanish captain had guaranteed goodness, as the one of the buckle that was judged, so to store of the sails but that, kept in wells and has it without air could warm up only.

Captain Malin of "Le Conquérant" have just received the order of the order of the Captain-General to revert on the"Pelayo"("Le Desaix" but captian Malin use the name "Pelayo" in his letters) about 3/10 men and troops passengers. When to the rest forming 260 men and the 77th Brigades, he get on his way from Cap to carry them to MontChristi from where captain Malin must make his return in to Cap. He had a lot of to live on board to put back for the vessels. Captain Malin was surprised to be used as a coastal navigation makes at most for corvettes or light hames.

continued in my book.