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Speech by the President of the AGASM, Rear Admiral Salles 

The president of the AGASM, Rear Admiral Dominique Salles was the organizer of the fiftieth anniversary ceremony in Toulon to honor the memory of the sailors who disappeared with the submarine Minerve on January 27, 1968 . 

Here we are  reunited, on an anniversary day, to honor the sailors who died aboard the Minerve. At these same moments, with these same words,  in Brittany, in Normandy as well as in Hauts-de-France, other ceremonies honor sailors from this same crew.


On January 26, 1968, the submarine Minerve successfully concluded nine days of training and conditioning. The next day, at 07:30 and in the south of Toulon,  he is at the periscopic immersion, at the snorkel ; he is taking part in an exercise for the benefit of a maritime patrol aircraft.

At 07:55, the aircraft informed the submarine that it was canceling the activity in progress from 08:00. This acknowledges receipt ; he thus has freedom of manoeuvre. This will be the last contact.

The submarine is expected in Toulon, in the evening, at 9:00 p.m. At 8:00 p.m. and then at 11:00 p.m., the squadron duty officer asked the local semaphores if they had had contact with the submarine. Responses are  negative.

At 02:15 the squadron triggered the alert by message formalizing the absence of contact with the submarine. Searches are immediately undertaken by significant air and surface means. Unsuccessful for a week, they were abandoned on February 2.

On February 8, a religious and military ceremony takes place in Toulon, in the presence of General de Gaulle.

The Board of Inquiry will be confirmed with the detection of an implosion and will obtain a more precise idea of its position ; searches  by bathyscaphe will also be unsuccessful. The conclusions of the commission are issued in August. The latter analysed  all the hypotheses that could lead  to the accident : collision, leak or damage to the helm, … without being able to conclude with certainty. The hypothesis adopted will be : "building losing periscopic immersion, weighing heavily and having taken on board a lot of sea water through its air tube".

This commemoration is reserved for you, families of our friends, of our elders. Some of us have precise memories of the days that followed this disappearance, of the silent presence of a crowd that supported you on a day of affliction.


Near this harbour, fifty years later, it is with the same enthusiasm that  sailors, friends of the crew, former and active submariners too, come to your sides

  • for  to bring the warmth of deep affection,

  • to testify that oblivion will never have a place in their hearts,

  • to ensure that you are not alone in preserving memory and, above all,

  • to tell you their tenderness that modesty silences them.


Such an unexpected, unjust disappearance plunged families into dread, deprived of children of fathers, deprived   of parents of sons, but it certainly allowed our strength and its submarines to forge, to acquire, to also maintain greater security.  


Oui, anciens de la « Minerve », tout comme ceux de l' « Eurydice » , your sacrifice will not have been in vain ! Thus, the proposals made at the end of the surveys will aim to ward off such disasters. They will be at the origin of a stricter vision of security, they will be the foundations of our submariner culture, whether in terms of

  • design, maintenance or regulation,

  • training and supervision of our staff,

  • training our crews and driving our submarines.


As our Anglo-Saxon friends say, your parents, our friends are now and forever… on eternal patrol.


Here off Toulon, cross stitch on their tomb but, on the short waves hemmed with frail foam, you will see white caps, in well-ordered rows, which stand guard there, who still watch for us.


To god husbands and fathers, to god brothers and sons, to god dear comrades, venerable elders, brothers in arms forever !


Fifty years ago, on  this same harbour, General de Gaulle paid you, in these terms, deserved honors :


"Sailors have died at sea. They were  volunteers. That is to say, they had accepted the sacrifice in advance and had made a pact with danger. It is for this, in particular, that the submarine "Minerve" has left a deep memory in the heart of the whole of France and an example that will last for its armies. In the name of the Fatherland, I salute their memory and I I am sure that from what they wanted to do and what they have done will come out for our France something as strong as they had wanted. Long live France."  _cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_        _cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b- 136bad5cf58d_


          _cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_           _cc781905 -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_         _cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ January 27, 2018  

CA Dominique Salles - Cinquantenaire disparition Minerve


© Var-Matin -  Dominique Leriche

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