It was a difficult operation, for the French and Spaniards had in all 46 line-of-battle ships to his 33, and in the exhausted state of the country it was impossible to fit his ships properly or to supply them with good crews.
Howe then concentrated his force of nine small line-of-battle ships at Sandy Hook on the 29th of June, and on the 11 th of July he learnt that d'Estaing was approaching.
The shallow water on the coast made it impossible for the British line-of-battle ships, or even large frigates, to press the attack on them home.
A confused action in a fog ended in the capture of 2 Spanish line-of-battle ships.
Napoleon continued to build line-of-battle ships in numbers from Venice to Hamburg, but only in order to force the British government to maintain costly and wearing blockades.
During the first five years of the reign four line-of-battle ships were added and several armoured cruisers for the defence of commerce and colonial interests.
D'Arzac de Ternay was sent from Brest with seven line-of-battle ships, and a convoy carrying 6000 French troops to act with the Americans..
On the 1st of June he was joined by a frigate and two line-of-battle ships sent with orders from Rochefort, and was told to remain in the West Indies till the 5th of July, and if not joined by Ganteaume to steer for Ferrol, pick up the French and Spanish ships in the port, and come on to the Channel.