Vissersschip de Mutin zeilt door de golven

Tall Ships




She was built as a fishing vessel in 1926 and is the oldest ship of the French Navy. She is traditionally witnessed like all fishing boats of that time in the area around Sables d’Olonne, but has never served as such. From 1927 she was used to train pilots for the maritime school of Saint-Servan near Saint-Malo in France.

But this little ship has a heroic history. In 1940 Mutin arrived in England where she was noticed by the Special Operations Commander, Gerald Holdsworth. He was appointed to set up a route from and to Brittany with people and equipment. That is why a house was purchased at a remote location on the banks of the Helford River. Mutin became the mother ship of the ‘Helford Flotilla’. Secret agents were trained on board to sail up and down the river.

In June 1941 Mutin was attacked by German fighter planes where one of the passengers, the Frenchman Jean Piron, was mortally wounded. Other ships in the ‘Helford Flotilla’ were a French Coaster, a Ketch and a Trawler. In 1942 the name of Mutin changed to Jean Piron in honor of the killed crew member. Then she was painted over so that she became more like a real French fishing ship. In collaboration with the RAF she joined the French tuna fishermen in the Bay of Biscay. Here the crew members thought – innocent looking – to make plastic replicas of tuna and use it as explosives against the Germans. The Mutin worked throughout the war as a ship of the French Resistance under the leadership of the Helford Flotilla. After the war she was recovered in Fowey and returned to France, until today as training ship for the French Navy. Her heroic past requires deep respect from all who visit her!


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