First stone frigate
Last updated: June 5, 2018 at 18:56 pm
HMS Diamond Rock — Le rocher diamant is a highly popular dive site off the southern coast of Martinique where divers swim through a 30-m (100 ft) long volcanic tunnel running across the island at a depth of 45 feet (14m). It also has a unique military history. In 1804, the steep basalt island was designated a sloop-of-war by Commodore Sir Samuel Hood. HMS Diamond Rock was also known as a stone frigate, which is a nickname for a naval establishment on land. Its purpose was to watch for and harass French warships sailing for Fort-de-France. The 175-m (574 ft) high island harboured a British garrison and several cannons during the Napoleonic Wars. Perched at the very top, the guns were able to fire far out to sea where strong currents often prevented French vessels from approaching the harbour in Fort-de-France. The island was retaken by the French after 17 months and many unsuccessful attempts. Today, the uninhabited island is a wildlife refuge for several bird species as well as the endemic Couress grass snake. Discover more about diving in Martinique in our feature story: Deep rumblings shape modern Martinique.
Contrary to what is stated on Wikipedia, Diamond Rock is no longer considered a commissioned ship by the Royal Navy. The French-language reference that is used to make the claim is in fact written in the past tense, and was erroneously translated. The island has been French since June 3, 1805.
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Jeffrey Gallant is the Editor-in-Chief and Records Keeper of the Diving Almanac. He is also a contributing editor of DIVER Magazine, and the scientific director of the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG). Jeffrey started diving in 1982.