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Speech by Hervé Fauve

at sea above La Minerve

Madam Minister, Admiral, Ladies and Gentlemen


This simple word summarizes more than any other the first thought I had when I received the call from Admiral Prazuck who announced to me this news that had been awaited for so many years, the discovery of Minerva after more than 51 years of waiting.

Immediately, I tried to warn all the families with whom I was in contact, to avoid that they learn it by the media which were going to seize the news.

And then I started thinking about all the people who would have liked so much to be warned.

51 years ago most of these young sailors still had their parents, sometimes even their grandparents, very few of whom are still with us today.

Since then, how many grandparents, fathers, mothers, how many wives, girlfriends, how many sisters, brothers, daughters, cousins, friends have left us wondering where these sailors from the Minerva were. My own grandmother died with the regret of never having known where her eldest son lay, all her life my mother wanted to know what could have happened to her husband, to the father of her children. And how many have nourished  the mad hope that they were still alive, perhaps held away, against their will, but that they would return.

Many of you have also sent me heartbreaking testimonies to tell me about those who, until their last moment, until their last breath, wondered about the place where Minerva rested. It is in the name of this anguish, never calmed, that some of you, born well after the tragedy, are also here today taking over from this inconsolable parent.

I don't forget those few sailors who were called the survivors. That day they were to be on board the Minerve. Fate decided otherwise and they had been replaced by another. All their life they carried the guilt of the death of the one who had taken their place so that the crew was complete.

Finally, I am thinking of those who, when the disappearance was announced in 1968, fought, first with the hope of being able to save the crew, hoping for a miracle, then to find her.

So today this ceremony is not only dedicated to the 52 sailors of La Minerve, it is also dedicated to the crowd of those who would have liked so much to be with us on this day.

Since this disastrous January 27, 68, we have been saying " la Minerva has disappeared ". Behind the word “disappeared”, there was a doubt, an uncertainty. Doubt not knowing anything, doubt not understanding, uncertainty about what had happened, uncertainty about where they could be, uncertainty about what their dernier_cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_instant. This word “disappeared” has eaten away at many of us leaving so many questions unanswered.

For a few weeks, we have known where they rest, we have been able to see these images, terrible in our eyes, of their steel coffin, almost preserved for years.

Today in the name of all their families, all their friends, all their brothers in arms, I would like to thank all those who have contributed, directly or indirectly, to our being here today.

It started with the AGASM, which has always supported us, until your involvement and that of the Navy, Admiral Prazuck, and finally your decision to resume the research, Madam Minister.

Then teams mobilized within the Navy. Some are represented among us today. I am thinking of those I had the chance to meet, Admiral du Che, Commander Thomas Guerry, Lieutenant Commander Olivier Bouzemane, Chief Engineer Julien Simon,_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b- 136bad5cf58d_ there would be many others no doubt who will forgive me for not naming them.

Our gratitude is immense and we will never have enough words to thank you.

Thanks to you, we will never again say that the Minerve has disappeared since we know where it is, there some 2370 m below us.

And it is to the sailors of the Minerve that I will address myself to end this speech.

We have all come, we are here, above you, closer to your final resting place, we always think of you, we have never forgotten you, and we have come to bid you this last farewell that you, like us , have been waiting for so long.


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