Replica French ship Hermione salutes America's Liberty statue

A replica of the French frigate Hermione.
A replica of the French frigate Hermione.AFP
A French sailor waves from the replica of the frigate Hermione.
A French sailor waves from the replica of the frigate Hermione.AFP
Crew members on the deck of the replica of the French frigate Hermione.
Crew members on the deck of the replica of the French frigate Hermione.AFP
Captain Yann Cariou aboard the replica of the replica of the French frigate Hermione.
Captain Yann Cariou aboard the replica of the replica of the French frigate Hermione.AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - A replica of the Hermione, the 18th century ship that brought French General Lafayette to America, sailed the waters off New York on Saturday, leading a flotilla marking the Independence Day holiday.

The faithful reproduction of the majestic French frigate glided past New York's famed Verrazano bridge, where it was joined by scores of other boats and ships.

The flotilla then made its way toward Liberty Island in New York Harbour past a symbol of the two nations' enduring friendship - the towering Statue of Liberty, a gift to the US from France in 1884.

The Hermione replica - which took almost two decades to build - departed France's western coast in mid-April, retracing a 6,000km journey across the Atlantic.

It arrived in New York earlier this week for July Fourth festivities and had been docked at Pier 15 in south Manhattan on the East River.

The original three-masted Hermione brought General Lafayette to America to rally US patriots fighting for independence from Britain.

The ship arrived in the US nearly a month ago, stopping first in Yorktown, Virginia, where American forces led by General George Washington and French soldiers scored a decisive victory over the British in 1781, prompting their capitulation.

The original Hermione was used in that battle.

On its way to New York, the ship stopped again in Mount Vernon, Virginia, just outside Washington, then in Annapolis and Baltimore, both in Maryland, and in Philadelphia.

It will move on to Boston and then to Canada.

New York was the last city liberated by Washington's troops, in 1783.

The metropolis now known as the Big Apple served briefly as US capital, from 1785 to 1790.