Bringing the Ocean to Society
4 Jul 2019
The search for the wreck of the submarine La Minerve, disappeared in 1968, resumed in the Mediterranean
EurOcean Co-Founder and Member Ifremer is supporting the French Navy in an unprecedented attempt to find the missing wreck.

A specialized drone and a research vessel will be deployed on 4 July 2019 off Toulon to try to locate the wreck of the submarine La Minerve more than 2,000 meters below the sea surface, disappeared half a century ago with 52 men on board.

A research submarine drone from EurOcean Co-Founder and Member Ifremer, capable of covering 10 square kilometres per day on a research area of ​​several hundred, will be launched from an oceanographic research vessel, which will analyse the data obtained every day. The mission will last until 14 July and is to be followed by the deployment of other equipments.

A four minutes misfortune to be solved with today’s science

On 27 January 1968, the military submarine, operating off Toulon with 52 men on board, sank in just four minutes. Despite the relief operations immediately undertaken, the wreckage has never been located, leaving families waiting and grieving.

Since the announcement, at the beginning of 2019, of the recommencement of the operations, the specialists have redefined the search area where it is most probable to find the wreck. For such purpose, old data was reviewed and compared against the current state of the art knowledge. For example, the seismic recordings that make it possible to locate the submarine could be reworked. These signals can now be analysed much more finely. Plus, the knowledge of the local deep sea currents has also progressed.

A call from families of the missing

Last October, families of those who disappeared with Minerva called for the search of the wreckage, "to know where rest those who gave their lives for their country" and "to complete a long work of mourning which, for some, has never been done”. Many causes have been mentioned to explain the accident: a failure of the rear bar, a collision with a boat, the explosion of a missile, a torpedo or an accident of the aeration tube.

The new research campaign is conducted by the French Navy with the help of EurOcean Co-Founder and Member Ifremer, who are conducting the mission with "emotion", "determination", but also "modesty", due to the difficulty of the necessary operations.

Original news article and photography by Ouest France.