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Speech by Hubert Falco

on behalf of the City of Toulon

Mr. Maritime Prefect,

Ladies and gentlemen families and loved ones,

Ladies and gentlemen,


I believe that all Varoises and all Varois of my generation remember what they were doing when they learned by radio, on the morning of Sunday January 28, 1968 that the submarine La Minerve had disappeared the morning before, off Toulon, with 52 men on board.


I remember the shock, the dread, the amazement, the sadness of the whole of France, sadness that General de Gaulle came to express in Toulon on February 8, 1968...


On January 27, 1968, France lost 52 of its best sons. The French Navy has lost 52 submariners, 52 elite soldiers, who had voluntarily chosen this very special career as submariners.

On January 27, 1968, 52 families saw their lives disintegrate in pain and grief.

Losing a loved one, a son, a father, a spouse in such dramatic circumstances, is a terrible ordeal, but when, in addition, the absence of any information prevents the work of mourning, the pain becomes too strong to be expressed...


The search to locate the wreckage, just after the sinking having failed, I can imagine that the people affected in their flesh by this tragedy have never been able to find peace until this day.


I was also touched by the extreme pain expressed by the families present, on January 27, 2018, during the ceremony of the 50th anniversary of the sinking of the Minerve. By their side, I deeply felt the sense of questioning, the need for an answer, the need for a burial.


Also, when the son of Lieutenant André FAUVE, commander of the Minerve, contacted me a few months later to explain to me that technological progress in oceanography and marine geolocation opened up new hopes for finding the submarine. damaged attack off Toulon, I immediately relayed to the Minister of the Armed Forces, Mrs. Florence PARLY, the wish of the families to see the search resume.


I would also like to thank her for having heard this appeal, just as she also heard that of Vice-Admiral Charles Henri Leulier of La Faverie du Ché, then Maritime Prefect of the Mediterranean.


Admiral du Ché, I know his humanism and his attachment to his men. I know that he never gave up hope of bringing the families of the missing sailors the comfort that the location of the wreck represents. He knew all the importance of this marine burial.


Admiral Maritime Prefect knows better than anyone the moral commitment, dedication and sense of homeland of the submariner corps. He is one of them.


You don't become a submariner by chance, you choose to be a submariner. You need to have a strong mind and extraordinary physical endurance to embrace this career. Whatever his place and his role on the ship, each man on board agrees to live “ différemment ”, in the service of France…


At a depth of 300m, in a cramped space that you have to know how to share and optimize, everything takes on a particular dimension and only exceptional sailors can withstand these living and exercise conditions. The submariner corps is an elite corps.


These 52 submariners who disappeared in service with their ship, these sailors who died for France, represented the elite of our French Navy.

Also, in the name of the sacrifice they have made for France, at a time when technological progress now makes yesterday's impossible missions possible, it would have been inconceivable not to put science at the service of our duty to remember.


It was everyone's duty to resume the search in order to find the wreck of the Minerve and to honor the memory of its crew with dignity.


It was our duty to all of us to finally provide answers to the families of these sailors who gave their lives to France!


They will now be able to rest in peace and their families will finally be able to carry out their trying work of mourning.


We have never forgotten the sailors of La Minerve, their 52 names are carved in stone at the National Monument to Missing Submariners, in the gardens of the Royal Tower, (monument that I inaugurated as Minister on 28 November 2009), but now they have an identified and recognized burial.


May the Mediterranean watch over the rest of these sailors who are forever in our hearts and in our memories.


May they rest in peace.




Hubert FALCO

Mayor of TOULON

Former minister

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