The Research

BHR modelPeter Reaveley, Historical Researcher for the Ocean Technology Foundation, is considered an expert on the battle between Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis. During more than thirty years of research, he has performed numerous literature searches, and combed archives and technical libraries around the world to identify all available data relating to the vessel’s construction, operations, and loss.  His extremely thorough research methodology is summarized below:

  • More than 30 contemporary eyewitness accounts of the battle and its aftermath have been collected and reviewed.
  • All of the information on weather, winds, visibility, tides, sea-state, etc. for the period 12:00 Thursday, 23 September 1779, to 12:00 Saturday, 25 September, 1779 has been extracted from eyewitness accounts.  It has been correlated, integrated and analyzed.
  • A Damage Assessment was completed on both the Richard and Serapis by extracting information from the eyewitness accounts.  The effects of these damages on the seaworthiness of each ship in the appropriate weather and sea-state conditions were assessed.
  • An hourly account of the crew’s actions was prepared, along with possible hourly plots of the Most Probable Position of Richard up to the time the ship sank.
  • A detailed summary of Richard’s ballast mound in terms of possible length, breadth and height was prepared, and the ship’s total iron content was estimated.