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Lost French sub found after over 50 years

PortandTerminal.com, July 22, 2019

The wreckage of a French submarine that sank in 1968 with 52 crew members onboard has been found in the Mediterranean ending a five-decade mystery over a vessel that was once one of the jewels of the French fleet.

TOULON, FRANCE – The wreck of the French submarine La Minerve, which disappeared in 1968 with 52 men on board, was found off the Port of Toulon. The announcement was made on Twitter today by Florence Parly, Minister of the French Armed Forces.

Translation: “We have just found the Minerve. It’s a success, a relief and a technical feat. I think of the families who waited for this moment so long

La Minerve was on a military exercise when it disappeared in January 1968. Repeated searches have failed to find the vessel until now.

Under pressure from relatives of crew members, a fresh search was launched at the beginning of this year using the latest hi-tech equipment to map and model tides and currents in the Mediterranean. Data from the time of the accident was also re-examined. This included seismic reports that suggested the submarine probably imploded as it dropped to the bottom of the sea.

Photo: Seabed Constructor

The wreck was located in the Mediterranean 27 miles (43 km) from Toulon, at 2,370 meters deep, by the American ship Seabed Constructor, arrived last Tuesday to participate in research, and whose drones have provided visual confirmation of the location of the Minerve.

The Seabed Constructor’s position off of Toulon in the Mediterranean as of Monday, July 22, 2019

The Seabed Constructor, owned by the US company Ocean Infinity is the same vessel that was used to find the wreck of the San Juan submarine, which disappeared with 44 men on board, off Argentina in November 2018.

All 52 of the crew aboard the Minerve died when the submarine sank

On January 27, 1968, the military submarine, operating some 18 miles (30 km) off Toulon, sank in just four minutes. In spite of the relief operations immediately undertaken, the wreckage had never been located before.

Many possible causes for the submarine to sink have been offered to explain the accident: a collision with a boat, the explosion of a missile, a torpedo or an accident of the aeration tube.

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