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Address of the President of the AGASM, Rear Admiral Salles 

Here we are gathered to honor, this day, 52 sailors forever reunited in the Mediterranean.

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 in periscopic immersion, snorkeling; 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. The latter 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. Answers 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.

The commission of inquiry will see itself confirming the detection of an implosion and will obtain a more precise idea of its position; searches by bathyscaphe will also be in vain. The conclusions of the commission are issued in August. This analyzed all the hypotheses that could lead to the accident: collision, water ingress or damage to the helm, ... without being able to conclude with certainty. The hypothesis adopted will be: "ship losing periscopic immersion, weighed heavily and having loaded a lot of sea water through its air tube".

On February 8, 1968, a religious and military ceremony took place in Toulon; General de Gaulle honors the crew there in these terms:

“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. particular that the "Minerva" submarine has left a deep memory in the heart of France as a whole and an example that will last for its armies. In the name of the Fatherland, I salute their memory and 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."

It also falls to us the duty to evoke, here, a son of this commune.

Jacques M alarm signed up on June 5, 1962 for a period of five years. The turner's CAP played a role, because the current contract is for three years and allows reciprocal discovery of the individual and the navy.

A short "regulatory" stint at the Hourtin maritime training center introduced him to the water on heavy wooden canoes aboard which hands and arms hardened on the dead wood of the oars and the crew spirit was already founded. .

He then obtained, in equivalence, the provisional certificate of mechanic and he was sent to the school of apprentice mechanics of the fleet in Toulon. The school is on the edge of the harbor and, like many apprentices, he was able during breaks to see gray boats and submarines coming and going. Did these influence him?

In any case, the young sailor with the elementary patent crosses the harbor at the beginning of November to reach the submarine base and old Béarn. For the additional crew, medical examinations and passage to the caisson validate the aptitude then boarding in subsistence allow to discover life on board. For him it will be the Doris for two months. Courses will follow at the school of navigation, submarine from which he leaves in April 1963 with a precious sesame, the elementary certificate of submariner. The blue outfit of the sailor is now adorned with a small submarine on a metal circle.

It is on board the "Morse", based in Lorient, that he will really get used to submarines. Assigned to the diesels in the function of lubricator, he knows hell there in the service of Schneider engines as hot as they are capricious. At that time, the activity of the “Narwhales” was very sustained, particularly in the North Sea or in the vicinity of the Faroe Islands where storms follow one another to the rhythm of depressions. Discreet, efficient, Jacques fits in perfectly with the crew.

Special mission is entrusted to this crew: that of validating the oxygenation center for submariners at La Condamine. Jacques is there: his intrepidity on the ski slopes earned him a reputation as a “cheat on death” and “king of bowls” ending his journeys, at the bottom of the slopes, covered in snow from head to toe.


The chief quartermaster landed in September 1965 to return to the school of mechanics. Six months of lessons in le  sud before returning to Cherbourg where, in February 1966, he put his bag on board the submarine Gymnote.

The submarine is at the end of its armament and has undergone a certain number of validation tests. This submarine will be the one that will validate most of the missile installations of future SSBNs. The comfort there is admirable: no hot bench, air conditioning... and no snorkeling!

The best memory will be that of the descent from Cherbourg to Toulon in the summer of 1966. A long transit on the surface, because it was important to validate, over time, the proper functioning of the generators.

At this time Jacques has a five-year contract in progress. One of his good friends will end, almost at the same time, his own three-year contract. Jacques asks him if he would agree to take over his father's garage with him in Wassy. The idea suits, but it will not be able to go to the end, because, before the end of his contract, Jacques is promoted to the rank of second-master. This unexpected promotion leads him to review his plans: he decides to renew his commitment. At the end of the year he obtained the superior certificate of submariner "the BS Submariner" as we said then!

On January 2, 1967, he boarded the submarine Minerve. The second half of the year will be devoted to work on the first large fairing, which will end with a dense period of testing before returning to operational activity. It's a bit like the resumption of activity on board the Gymnote. After all, there is no difference between a new building and a building that has just been refitted.

The tests are over, followed by the conditioning of a young crew and their new pasha. The calendar turns, January 27 comes ... and the life of a determined boy with a bright future comes to an end.

He is remembered by one of his friends as "a good fellow and of great kindness who had the same beard as that of the sailor of Players cigarettes".

During the ceremony of January 27, 2018, it was mentioned that "off Toulon, cross stitch on the tomb, but, on the short waves hemmed with frail foam, you will see white headdresses, in well-ordered rows, which rise there guard, who still watch for us.

The Mediterranean keeps its body forever, but here, in Wassy, the memory will remain of a local child who left too soon and who was loved.

Dominica Halls

Rear Admiral (2s)

Admiral Dominique Salles giving his speech in front of M. Christel Mathieu maire de Wassy and two of Jacques M alarm's grandnieces

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