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Speech by Admiral Laurent Isnard 

Mediterranean Maritime Prefect

Madam Sub-Prefect,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Minister, Mayor of Toulon,
Mr. Vice President,
Admiral,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear families and friends of the sailors of La Minerve,

On January 27, 1968, the submarine Minerve disappeared at sea. 

 

Fifty-one years later, the emotion is intense, still intact. It does not weaken not, mixing the pain of having lost loved ones with the relief of having, finally, located the maritime burial where our 52 sailors rest.

Death at sea, under the sea, the death of our sailors, of our combatants nous upsets, strikes us in the heart. It reminds us again and again that if the sea can be beautiful and majestic like today, it can also be terrible. The sea forces us to be humble. And yesterday's submariners et 
of today, shine by their immense courage and their sense of sacrifice beyond common. They protected us, sometimes at the risk of their lives and are protecting us encore. And we count on them, their selflessness, their efforts to guide us at sea. ocean deterrence, the life insurance of the nation, has been effective for nearly 50 years.


The Navy does not forget its brothers in arms, its comrades. The Navy has not forgotten you.


So when the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, decided to resume des recherches on December 24, everyone was on deck. Technology  is finally there. Men and women from all walks of life  then committed themselves tirelessly to this enterprise. Because the memory of la Minerva is still vivid. Because everyone remembers. All the world. Relatives of course, sailors including submariners of course, but also all French citizens, and particularly here, in the city of Toulon.

This research was certainly a technical success, but it was above all a collective adventure, a human adventure. I would like to salute here the involvement without faille of all the actors : SHOM [Hydrographic Service and Oceanographic of the Navy], IFREMER [the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea], the SHD [Defence Historical Service], the CEA [the Energy Commission Atomic and Alternative Energies] and the Ocean Infinity company who worked under the coordination of the Navy, always in close collaboration with the families.


The first crucial step reduces the area of recherche by more than half. With a fresh eye, modern tools and an updated map of underground currents, all period documents are finely analyzed, seismic readings of the implosion recorded in 1968, to the testimony of the aircraft which worked with the Minerva before its disappearance, passing through all the clues to the supposed position of the Minerva. All avenues are explored, all the actors bring their energy, their expertise and their support.


This meticulous, demanding work pays off. The research, which begins in February 2019, then continues in July. It is then necessary to cover an area equivalent to 4 times the city of Paris, but we are confident : the strategy developed is relevant and thoughtful, the means have a precision of order metric, the weather conditions are favorable to us.


And on July 21, 2019 at 7:10 p.m., the wreck of the Minerve appears on the screens of the submarine robots. The gasp, the tears in the eyes, the emotion is everywhere.  It invades us and spreads according to telephone announcements, broadcasting images. La Minerve is finally located 45km south-southwest of Toulon by 2370 meters deep.

Today, we have a place to remember, here of course on land, but also at sea. And tomorrow, we will go and pray, offshore, with our sailors_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b -136bad5cf58d_disappeared.


They will forever be in our hearts. Let's remember !

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