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Work of the Commission of Inquiry (February 5-July 2, 68)

On February 5, a commission of inquiry was ordered under the chairmanship of Admiral EVENOU, Inspector General of the Navy.

This committee produces:

  • a preliminary report     on February 17

  • un definite report on july 2

She set out to find the possible causes of the accident. She couldn't find any for sure.

Faced with the lack of clues, she wanted to find the wreckage and had to analyze a set of manifestations for this purpose.

Of all the facts reported to her, she retained only the following events:


Event n° 1:

Rupture of the UHF link between the plane and the submarine: common phenomenon explained by the height of the waves, by a temporary loss of immersion...


Event #2

Luminous phenomenon observed by two fishermen as they come out of the Bru passes in the form of a large glow with green reflections at 4 or 6 N in line with the tip of Gardiole and the fort of Six-Fours.

The approximate position is:

  • La  43°00 N

  • Lo : 5°45 E

This glow was attributed to an unidentified lamparo.

Event #3

On January 28, stains of polluted water par diesel are detected by

  • lPC ADROIT                                       en 215 SICIE 8     at    9 am

  • lTRAVAILLEUR                                   en 224 SICIE 8       at 1:45 pm

  • PACHYDERME                                 en 227 SICIE

  • ACTIF                           en 227 SICIE

The slick was 200 to 500 meters wide and stretched 2 N to 245 in the direction of the current. It has two colors. It gives off a strong smell of fresh diesel, like when refueling at sea. Bubbles as big as petanque jacks burst on the surface and dissolve there ( NB[1]). The chemical analysis of the samples collected confirms the possibility that this slick contains gas oil used by submarines.

Click here to download a transcribed version of the testimonials


Admiral  Jules Evenou

Event n°4

A submarine garbage bag was found folded by a CLEMENCEAU[2] helicopter on January 30 at 2:50 p.m. in 235 SICIE II. In fact, this bag had already been used and it is difficult to determine its origin.

His position is

  • A: 42° 55 N

  • Lo: 5° 40 E

Event #5

On a wharf on the Beauvallon golf-hotel beach in Ste Maxime, two children aged 13 and 14, sons of Mr. BERTHONNIER, observed that the wharf was violently shaken by a shock, an explosion. A search with the submarine detection centers in the area (Brusc) yields nothing, because these centers are not armed on Saturdays. But on the indication of the ICGM COPPIN of the Pyrotechnics of Toulon, contact was made with the managers of the network of seismograph stations in the South of France, attached to the Geophysics Laboratory and the Atomic Energy Commission. The results were negative.


Event #6

The CEA (Atomic Energy Commission), through its director Professor ROCARD, reports that on January 27 at 7:59 a.m. its laboratories responsible for detecting and monitoring all underground explosions have  implosion in the Mediterranean off Toulon. 

The seismological stations attached to the Institute of Earth Physics (IPG) confirm the existence of this anomalous signal on their routine recordings adjusted to a speed precise to 1/10° of a second:

  • CADARACHE (CNRS )                     07 h     59 m     42,4 s

  • CHAUDANNE                                  07 h     59 m     46,9 s

  • SERRE-PONÇON                             07 h     59 m     56,5 s

  • ISOLA                                                07 h    59 m    55,2 s

On March 8, Mrs LABROUSTE, head of the Institute's seismology service, estimated that the signal was produced by an explosion, equivalent to 1500 kg of tolamite (toluene-based dynamite), which took place at 6:59 a.m. 23.6n; 0.5 s in an epicentre,


  • A:42°46.0± 1

with the accuracy of ±1 km in azimuth

0.5 km in distance for a probability of 25%

  • Lo:5°50.0± 0.5

With the accuracy of ±1 4.5 km in azimuth

± 2 km in distance for a probability of 95%



Recordings from the Detection and Geophysics Laboratory - original SHD Vincennes

Professeur Rocard
Yves Rocard.jpg

Professor Yves Rocard

This discovery is so sensational that we immediately hurry to look for similar signatures on recordings from other stations and that we undertake parallel experiments of confirmation.

We thus discover that the stations attached to the Laboratory of Detection and Geophysics (LDG-ALPENS) (LORGUES-St PAUL IN FORET LA MOURRE) also had signals due to an unexplained shaking.

After analysis and confirmation tests with explosions of two 30/50' Tolite grenades, Professor ROCARD [3]  places the center of the explosion,   at a distance of 81.0 ±0.5 km from the center of the previous stations and in the azimuth 219° 3/4 of the ARCS,

either in La: 42° 50.4 N with an uncertainty of 2 km

          Lo: 5° 49.4 E


The positions given by the IPG and the LDG being different from 4.4 N, an engineer officer, General TEISSIER proposed on April 2 to bring them closer by:


  • actually measuring the propagation errors thanks to explosions of four heavy charges of one to three tons at immersion of 60_708 meters at 60_cc-9 meters 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_four corners of the area framing the positions given by the IPG and by adjusting the speed of the recordings so as to obtain an unwinding speed precise to 1/100° sec.

  • provoking a confrontation with the SH, of the two teams of seismologists from the IPG and the LDG to assign a weighting coefficient to each of the positions.


Load tests therefore take place:

  • from July 15 to 19 with loads of 35 kg at 600 meters,

  • du 22 au 29 Juillet avec une à trois charges de 1 tonne à 600 mètres avec quatre à six grenades sous -marines.


In conclusion, of the two hypotheses put forward by the Technical Service for Naval Constructions and Weapons (impact of the submarine against the bottom or implosion); General TEISSIER retains only the second, that is to say the brutal crushing by the pressure of the water at a depth of 700 meters, of a container containing approximately 700 m3 of air, at the position calculated by the LDG.


Event n° 7

Nineteen buildings having been cited by Marine Marseille as possibly having been in the area on the 27th morning, a hull inspection is systematically carried out on treize_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b -136bad5cf58d_of them immediately accessible. In particular on the FARAMAN and the SOLOGNE whose presence is certain around 0800 hours off Cape SICIE.

No anomaly is detected.


Event #8

There obviously remains the position of the submarine estimated by the plane at 0734. The preliminary report fixes this by:

  • La:     42°   39,8  N

  • Lo        6°   00,5  E

After reconstitution of the estimate, the Final Report discovers a deviation of 2.3 N in the 295 and places the new position in:

  • La:    42°  40,8 N

  • Lo:     5°  57,7 E

According to this conclusion, the submarine is at 7.1 N in the ESE of sector T65. training in the roadstead of Les Vignettes. The dead reckoning error is normally less than 10% of the path traveled, i.e. at most 1/10 (distance Toulon-Point estimated at 0734) = 25 N/I0 = 2.5 N which is less than the 7.1 N above -above.

There may also be an aircraft navigation error. This has been seen several times in the past for this type of device. An element comes to corroborate this point of view since it detects a freighter at 07:20 at a position where it seems after the fact that there was no building whereas on the contrary the FARAMAN is estimated at 11.8 N in the 333 from this point. If we carry out a transfer of 11.8 in the 333 to the position of the submarine given by the plane, we fall very close to the seismic position of the LDG (at 1.2 N in the 035). But this error of navigation is subject to caution because at the end of the mission, the plane was well readjusted 29 minutes later on the PLANIER…

Ultimately, the commission concludes that only events 6 and 8 can give an approximate position, subject to the hypothesis of an aircraft navigation error. It estimates that the probable zone is that centered on the position calculated by the LDG and defined with a probability of 95% ie. a rectangle of 9 km by 4 km.

It is this area that will serve as the basis for the research of 1968 and 1970.

[1] In the case of the SYBILLE, a submarine that sank in September 1952, the diesel lifts lasted 24 hours

[2] French aircraft carrier based in Toulon in service from 1961  to 1997

[3] Lhe father of the politician Michel ROCARD - See detailsYves Rocard on Wikipedia)

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