He entered the navy in 1735; 1757, lieutenant de vaisseau in 1757; 1764, capitaine de vaisseau; 1778, chef d’escadre; 1782, lieutenant-général.
In his first twenty-two years of service he served in all the theatres of war, without taking part in any major engagement. In 1764, in the Malicieuse, 32, he led a campaign against those perpetual thorns in European merchants’ sides, the Sallee pirates. In 1776 he acted as advisor to the Navy minister, Sartine, in reorganizing naval administration. He was present at the battle of Ushant (1778), commanding the Saint-Esprit, 80. Following the battle he cruised off the British coast, taking thirteen prizes in one month. Back in the West Indies in 1779, he took part in ÉSTAING’S actions off Grenada and at Savannah, and then in a smart action off Martinique with Hyde PARKER, saved half of an important convoy from falling into British hands.