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Below are verbatim statements of persons who remembered the accident. These comments were received on this site, published on other sites, even in the press, or sent directly whether by email or during conversations. Some of these testimonies are also visible on the "Comments" page and in the 50th anniversary speeches.

Only the names of people who publicly posted their comments are shown. When these testimonials were not visible on the Internet, only the first name is indicated.

The crew

Daniel  MARCOT

“One of the missing from La Minerve, Jean-Pierre NAUDIN, was with me on the Junon submarine. At the time of our transition to the rank of second-in-command, one of us had to stay on La Junon and the other embark on La Minerve. This submarine was, after its operational readiness, to join Lorient to join the Atlantic squadron. At his request, I agreed to stay on the Junon because NAUDIN, originally from Morbilhan (Belle-Île), was having a sailboat built in this region. »


Jean-Raymond LAUPENIE

"In 1967, I was on board the SM Gymnote as second-in-command electrician (January 1967 promotion) when at the end of November, I received my designation to board the SSBN Le Redoutable, a designation that I been waiting for a year. A few days later, the LV FAUVE, commander of the Minerve, asked CC CAZENAVE, second in command of the Gymnote, now retired Admiral on the shores of the Atlantic, if he would agree to disembark me in order to get me on his "vessel" for the time of the tests. He was looking for young mates with 800 ton experience. He knew that I knew this type of submarine for having sailed 3 months as a survivor on the Minerve and for 2 years as a crew on the SM Doris.

CC CAZENAVE summoned me to his office to inform me of the desire of the commander of the Minerve to recover me during the tests. I was very reluctant. he reassured me by telling me that the decision belonged to me and that he would not intervene. He summoned the LV FAUVE who informed me of his intentions which I refused. He did not insist and I embarked as planned on December 13, 1967 aboard the SNLE Le Redoutable. »

Pierrick LERAY

"Quartermaster Daniel SCHULTZ had chosen the Minerve in Toulon easier for him to go to his family in Alsace in INGERSHEIM near Colmar..."

Vincent OUBRE

“My father-in-law was in Toulon at the time of the disappearance of the Minerve… He had to swap with the master of the central of the Minerve who would have gone on the Shark. In fact, my stepfather went on the Shark »



"Among the victims is the QM Guy ROPART. He was from the Maistrance promotion in BREST - year 1966-1967 - just like me. he wanted to become a rifleman, but following negative medical tests, he indicated that he wanted to go to the submarines. »

Jean-Paul KRINTZ 

“I was responsible for the auxiliaries on board the Minerve on which I had embarked a year earlier.

The submarine sank on Saturday. 3 days before, we were at the quay. Our mission was complete. A naval air exercise was to follow. The second in command offered me not to participate. I was newly married and my contract was coming to an end. He thought that this permission would allow me to reflect on the pursuit of my career. So I had to go back to my post on Monday, but on Sunday the gendarmes came to get me. La Minerve had not returned. They asked me to stay with them to meet families and reporters. I had hope for 8 days. Then I knew it was screwed.

For 40 years I remained closed. I blamed. I felt out of place."

Jean-Marc X 

My brother had joined the navy and had sought a posting in Toulon to put some distance between him and our father, with whom relations were very strained. After the disappearance of Minerva he felt guilty and carried this burden until the end of his  days. He came to his mechanic shop and sometimes spent his day crying, motionless and prostrate. Grief eventually won out.

Robert X

I am his cousin. His father committed suicide a long time ago, no doubt eaten away by remorse for having encouraged his son to board the Minerve because he had been a submariner himself. Their family had been forgotten in the compensation. The error was corrected 30 years later.

Gabrielle Helies

Friends convinced my son Bernard to join the submarines, I tried, in vain, to dissuade him but he didn';t listen to me. After the tragedy, these friends never dared speak to me again, and anyway I couldn't have spoken to them.

The mission


" is a little after 7 a.m. I am lingering at the corner of the Isabelle and Laubeuf quays, because the Minerve is preparing to cast off its moorings to reach the sector which has been set for it, off from Cap Sicié, where she is to take part in an anti-submarine warfare exercise over the weekend with a Breguet-Atlantic.The verification combat post, led by the second officer, has just been completed.

The commander, in his sea coat, at the top of the massif, looks around the horizon; the approaches are clear, he is ready to cast off.

Suddenly, I see appearing at the bottom of the massif, Lieutenant Jean Agnus, the engineer of the building, who, after setting foot on the quay, walks towards me and says to me "Mr. Kévorkian, we have problems with leaks air on Girodin compressors, could you provide me with some O-rings?";. Without wasting time trying to understand, I quickly go to our workshops to fetch an assortment of seals from our reserves and give them to him. A few minutes later, the Minerve left the quay…I'm the last to see her walk away.. I even think I waved at Jean Agnus…or at the submarine itself. But maybe it's in my subconscious!!

Information for families and relatives

Martine COUTAL

“She was 18 at the time and was to marry Marcel Coustal, electro-mechanic on board, a few days after the return of the submarine.

On January 28, 1968, when she received a visit from her stepfather, she thought of approaching her next marriage once again. She is far from imagining the worst. She understands that day that her husband will never come back. The baby she is expecting will be an orphan. The boy will be born two months later and will be called Marcel. In tribute. She will marry posthumously, with the authorization of the President of the Republic, on July 10, 1968 and will obtain the right to bear the name of Coustal."The marriage was very, very difficult».


“On January 28, 1968, I was baking a cake for my husband, whose birthday it was. At 10 a.m., I heard the sirens. At noon, a livid sailor showed up and told me he would be late. he left at full speed. I immediately understood that he would never return. The following days are terrible, I calculated the number of hours during which he could live. I lived in anguish and suffering. How do I explain to my children the death of their father?
The information transmitted by television, radio and the press, all contradictory from one day to the next, was very
hard to bear. My husband's friends surrounded us a lot." 

Anne Marie Saussaye

“Claude was due to arrive on Sunday morning, on the 11 a.m. train, at Blois station. I went to pick it up with my little guy. Of course he wasn't there. We got back there at 2 a.m. When I got back, I mechanically switched on the set: planes had just taken off from the Hyères base to try to find the submarine, of which we hadn't heard from since the day before. This is how I learned of my husband';s death.

Odile X.

“I can say that the first time I saw my father cry was when he learned of the disappearance of the submarine Minerve and of his friend, a great classmate at the naval school, who commanded it”

Eric X.

"I vividly remember the time when the news of Minerve's disappearance came home. I saw my mom cry without me understanding what was the cause. My father was very dark and he took a long time to tell us things. Like the whole community of submariners, he tried to understand with the elements at his disposal by imagining all the scenarios. »

Edith X.

“It was 8:00 in the morning, we rang the doorbell, Mom thought it was our neighbor whose wife was ill who came to ask us for a favor. She opened the door and found herself in front of our neighbor, a retired admiral, in uniform, and another in service who broke the news to us.

Gerard AMPEN

“My brother, who was not yet 18, was on board the Minerve. I was then doing my military service in Toulon in the Navy as a radio operator. On the night of the 27th to the 28th, in the absence of a radio operator, I was awakened at 2 am by a superior who thought that I was the cousin of Pierre Ampen. So I replied that it was my brother, the superior then asked me if  I was in a state to take radio watch. Of course I agreed and tried desperately to reach the sub all night. At 8 am I was relieved of my post. »

Jean-Luc COMES

"I sailed on the Minerve from December 1, 1968 to September 1, 1967, I left it by the deminers' diving school in St Mandrier which I left on November 2, 1967, to embark in Lorient on the BSL Rancid. On my way to Polynesia…near Madeira, the Pasha (CF Chardin) called me to inform me of the bad news. He organized a ceremony on board, in which I participated, in honor of the 40 comrades I had left behind. »


“I was watching the news on television when it was announced that La Minerve was missing. My nephew was playing in front of the TV and said it's Uncle Jacques ' submarine. To reassure him, I told him "he's playing hide and seek at the bottom of the water, and since he's clever, we can't find him."

Gabrielle Helies

When I returned from mass, two friends came to see me looking serious. I found this surprising, as they never came to see me so early. We started chatting until the doorbell rang...


“I vividly remember the shock caused by the brutal news of my brother's death. My father's screams, from the balcony of the apartment, the livid faces of the neighbors. It was abominable, unthinkable. My father and I had lost my mother just ten years before. Each decided to be silent to preserve the other. After the tragedy, anxiety never let me go..."


"In January 1968 assigned to one of the services housed by the marine base which housed the   command of the submarine forces, I was staying in the life building of this base.
This weekend of January I had stayed at the base, because young provincial EV2 R I only came home for leave. This morning of the 28th I was therefore the only officer to   direct me to the base's only officer's wardroom for breakfast. In this almost deserted building I met with astonishment   the driver of ALSOUMAR who told me that he had driven at night to bring the Admiral back to the base. Sensing a serious problem I then telephoned the maritime gendarmerie at the dawn which   confirmed to me that the Admiral had returned and was stationed at his PC.
So I called   on the inside of Admiral Storelli to tell him that I had learned of his presence and that I was at his command, reminding him of my Trans specialty.
The Admiral thanked me telling me that he was with his chief of staff and his signal officer that we had lost contact with a submarine and asked me to add 3 place settings for the midday meal.
Five minutes before the meal the Admiral arrived with his two officers. Briefly I was told that it was Minerva and I understood that there was no longer any hope. The chief of staff had tears in his eyes.
When the Butler announced: the admiral is served, I   thus found myself alone to share with these three officers a particularly sad and moving meal.
Lunch was quick and the admiral returned to his command post.
Until the end of my assignment, I often had lunch in the square at the end of the table  en  presence of the Admiral, this day was never mentioned, but January 28 remains forever in my memory as the day the Marine family clenched their teeth and ranks."

Hubert XXX

I met Serge Gomez in Hourtin, during classes.
Without knowing that he was among the missing, I paid the honors to the whole crew.
It was by consulting the list of missing persons, forty years after the event, on the Internet, that I recognized his face.
It was a shock, as if it had just happened.
I keep the memory of a good guy, sympathetic, with whom I would have liked to become friends, if our roads had not separated. We didn';t have the same specialty.

Organization of research


“  I was an 11-year-old boy at the time… My father, a defense civilian, was on board the Galissonière (I believe) for trials, he had to come home late . We were listening to the radio like many families with my mother (TV was not in every home) when the announcer announced the loss of the submarine and the deployment of the ships in the area, she simply said to me: "Daddy won't come home."


“  I lived in Toulon, HLM Bazeille, I had just turned 9. On this Sunday morning in January everyone was sleeping at home. Around 5 / 6:00 am there is a knock on the door. My father gets up, us behind. He comes back, white as a sheet, spouting "Hey shit shit"... What's going on? La Minerve is missing, we set sail immediately, we don't know when we';ll be back. At that time he was Cipal Méca on a minesweeper. He had several friends on board La Minerve”.



“ I remember this Sunday around 12 p.m. when cars equipped with loudspeakers crisscrossed the streets of Toulon asking certain crews, including that of Clem in particular, to join the boat immediately, leaving us in expectation as to the reason for this recall. Just as I will never be able to forget the moving ceremony on the Place of Armes presided over by General de Gaulle and the huge square formed by all the delegations from all the units. Everyone, that day, had their stomachs knotted to the extreme”.



«"I was on the Galissoniere of service on January 28, we left on Monday 29 for the research, my wife... had not had any information, we had neither radio nor television ".”.

Francois DEL BOCA

“The morning of 28/01/1968, I remember as if it were yesterday, in the middle of the night the siren on board was triggered to warn us of the silence of the "Minerve";. It must have been around 3:00 in the morning. We got up to scan the horizon for a good part of the night.

We were with her on exercise, Minerva had finished and was returning. At 8 o'clock on the morning of the 27th, she warned the surveillance plane that she was one hour from Toulon, then radio silence.

After a week of searching without result on the fast escort "Agenais", we returned to Toulon, at Quai Noël, to stock up and leave immediately.

The head clerk had not been able to move to choose, we had been made a pile on the platform, frozen meat stamped in blue ink 1945, Vico potatoes in boxes, bread of war, "monkey"(canned meat), "Henaff"pâté (following the saying used at the time in the navy, forgive me, "Henaff, the pâté du Mataf qui fait un gros paf" and some fresh breads for two days.

In other circumstances, we would have grumbled, no one did, thinking of our fallen comrades.

The poor cooks were desperate for meat, they tried the steak the first time, but it was only edible in a stew.

Searching the internet the max allowed for freezing beef these days is 18 months, so 23 year old meat but nobody got sick”.


"It was the next day that I felt the full impact of the drama: I was in CM2 at St Roch school and a little boy was crying in the yard, his papa was on board the Minerve. I remember that we were around him to try to reassure him with our little childish means, we told him that Commander Cousteau was coming to dive and save the sailors”.


"I was on the Ariane submarine at the time of the events, at sea and I took part in the research, I remember a sonar echo that I reported to the head of the central who called the TUUM the Minerva as follows: "Mike Romeo, Mike Romeo this is Yankee November, this is Yankee November if you get me speak" it was repeated many times. When I reported the echo, the boss took the headset and made me turn the wheel from right to left and at one point he stared at the echo. If I remember correctly, the pasha, the LV Froget also listened and then I left my post to go to the steering helm (usual watch rotation). I was 17 1/2 years old and I was shaken, like my comrades, because we knew there was no hope. I have lost friends that I will never forget. We returned to the quay 48h00 around 23h00 after the disappearance, the time to refuel and go back to sea for the search. We had a minute of silence and the commander didn't have much hope. We remain marked for life by these dramas of the Minerva and the Eurydice  and the atmosphere at the 1st SM squadron was no longer the same..."

Maurice GREE

“I was doing my military service on the Cassard as a radar operator. After a few days of exercise at sea, we were heading for Toulon, where we were to arrive around noon on the 28th; But early in the morning the pasha warned us that the Minerve had not returned to Toulon and that we were staying in the area to begin the search. During these four or five days, the entire crew of Le Cassard mobilized in the hope of finding our Friends (sampling of traces of hydrocarbons, recovery of all floating waste, regular calls to "Mike Echo"; asking to tap on the hull etc....)”


“  I was QM1 electrician on board Captain Robert Giraud. I have never been able to forget those days of research with Commander Cousteau. The tremendous tension that animated us all, the expectation, the hope and then the deep sadness when the research was abandoned. »


“It is now Monday morning January 29, 1968, shortly after 7 a.m., the freezing mistral has calmed down. Groups of workers are forming, I approach them: "Chief, I saw matafs this morning... who told me that the Minerve was lost: it hasn't returned to the base like intended ". I don';t know what to answer, I still don't understand the tragedy of the situation. I have never been confronted with such events.

From the squadron of Missiessy, then comes the confirmation that she lost all contact with the submarine on the morning of Saturday and that it has been officially missing since the time of her scheduled return at the end of the evening of that same Saturday.

In the afternoon, I learn that I am going to embark in the evening, in the company of workers whom I must appoint, who I must appoint, on a Gabare with the hope of having to put into action organs that we have prepared to ventilate the crew in fresh air, if we can reach La Minerve. But I know in my heart of hearts that it is vain to believe in the implementation of these means of rescue.

After a night spent aboard the Gabare off Toulon, we received the order to return to port: the hope of finding the Minerve was dismissed. When our equipment disembarked on Tuesday morning January 31, we understood that the submarine was definitively lost: the attitude, full of restraint of the personnel of the squadron and the shipyard, did not deceive us”


"In January 68 I was doing my military service as a 24-year-old deferral... When we arrived in Toulon, we were told that it was our crew who would be doing the honors during the ceremony in honor of the missing from La Minerve . We didn't really like this period of Military Service, which was quite useless for us. But I will never forget this moment and this emotion that we all felt during this ceremony and this tribute to those who were like us " People of the Sea".



"At CO I was at Thune (Gertrude) for 4 days, and every hour (I don't remember exactly) two grenades were thrown into the water, which was the way of asked the submarine to signal its presence, on the submarine telephone it was every ten minutes that we sent a call”.

The Media



" I remember Léon Zitrone who ominously recited on TV the hours that the crew supposedly had left to live without thinking about what he was inflicting on us in terms of anguish"

Marie Odile PICHOT

“  I remember the comments on TV, from Léon Zitrone, from hour to hour giving hope for a happy ending. We did not believe it, however, but maybe…, you never know… We also underlined the young age of the commander implying the lack of experience.


Edith X.

“We went to Toulon by a specially chartered military plane”


“I remember perfectly the speech of General de GAULLE who came to meet us, us submariners, crewed, lined up around the flag mast with eyes drowned in tears and sadness. We could hear the sobs of the families, the wives, the crying of the children and Madame de Gaulle went spontaneously among the families to bring some comfort. »

Dominique LABE

“Young apprentice mechanic at the school of Saint Mandrier, on the day of the ceremony, we had been arranged as a milestone all along the route between the Place of Armes and the base of the submarines.
I therefore saw nothing, heard nothing of this ceremony, homage to those of Minerva, but I remember perfectly an image which, in an indelible way, remained in my memory.
It is not the characteristic silhouette of General De Gaulle, but, through the windows of the Navy buses, it is the tearful faces of the families.
Wives, children, parents, brothers and sisters, I will never forget the sorrow that was expressed in your reddened eyes. »

Daniel Luder

“I was a cook sailor recruit on the squadron escort Kersaint, from July 1967 to 1968. The day of the disappearance I was on leave in Alsace. Back on Monday morning, there were no more ships in Toulon where we were passing through, our home port was Brest. On the quay there remained the sailors who could not embark, then we were informed of the disappearance, then transferred to our various ships on the spot in search of the submarine. The atmosphere was sad, everyone hoped to find him. The intense rumors of passageways gave hope, but the result is well known. »

Claudius X.

“I had embarked the commission of inquiry, including Admiral Evenou, completely ignorant of the realities of these submarines. We gave him a demonstration of snorkel alert with a rapid dive and a strong negative trim, accompanied by simulated damage to the helm. All this in a collected calm, and an effective reactivity of the crew at the combat stations. The master electrician came to see me face to face, to tell me that one out of two electric motors had worked! The commission did not know about it, and Admiral Evenou found that the maneuver was successful, but rough, since he had been stuck against the wall of the saloon during the pitch attitude minus 30. In the encyclopedia of submarines, volume 3, the words of the admiral are repeated: "You could say that these submarines are too good, because their performance, and especially their maneuverability, make us forget too quickly that in the last resort, it is on the man that everything depends".

And after


“ My father, who was a diver, died of grief a year after Nicolas (Migliaccio). He was convinced that the Minerve had been destroyed by the Soviets. »

Valerie X.

“When I was little, I dared not admit to my school friends that my father had died on a submarine for fear of being taken for a mytho. So I said that he had died in a car accident”.


";It was partly due to the tragedy at La Minerve that I became a submariner, it's a complex and twisted reasoning, but I was in the last company of the school of apprentice mechanics at the time of the tragedy, and I've followed on my transistor (rare at the time and hidden under my pillow so as not to be surprised), all the research operations on a marine frequency. Paradoxically, this dramatic situation reinforced my idea of a desire to dive, which was already rooted in me, influenced as I was by my neighborhood neighbor in Nice, Commander Cousteau, who was building the underwater house in the port of Nice during this period. »

Camille Sellier

“After considerable work by the commission of inquiry  Minerve, major modifications to the equipment had been decided, some of which only applicable during the following major refit (thus the Eurydice and the Flora had no not yet benefited from all of these modifications), but also modifications to the instructions for implementation, the construction of a piloting simulator in current mode as in degraded modes allowing in particular training in reactions in the event of d water and stricter supervision of staff training with the qualification system.

All this must be placed in the conditions of the time and the strong constraints weighing on the submarinade of the moment, a small force of 1500 men having to arm Le Redoutable and Le Terrible, achieve a double jump in quality (the technologies implemented on board SSBNs being of a much higher order than those of Diesel submarines) and in quantity to eventually provide at least 12 SSBN crews while retaining around twenty classic submarines and hoping for the upcoming advent of SNA . If you add the support for sales to foreign navies and the considerable ex-nihilo training effort of the Pakistani and South Africans, almost ex-nihilo of the Portuguese and the Spanish, going from submarines designed before the war to the type the most modern and the most efficient existing in Europe, you will have a small idea of the general atmosphere of the moment.


“(in January 2019) I recently revealed to my children and his grandchildren the relationship that once united me to this young sailor (Jacques Priard). Due to current events and the initiation of new research, fifty years after the disaster.”



"The aunts of Christian Nicolas, whom I knew at the school of mechanics, kept money invested even today, that Nicolas" parents had saved, they died hoping for their return. They remain very angry with the authorities and they too still hope for it. It is resentment that surpasses mourning among these old ladies. They have been kept in ignorance, which has lengthened their pain. The aunt who is 80 years old was like a sister to Christian, they were only 10 years apart, you have to hear her talk about him, she brought tears to my eyes.

Philippe Bidal

In 1976, I was a young sailor on the Flore and on chore to tidy up our attics in the BSM building, a quartermaster showed me the open attic of the Minerve or the Eurydice ( I don';t know anymore) and said to me “you see these are the effects of certain members of the crew that the families have not recovered” I was shocked, we did not linger.

Fauve - Tém
Schultz - Tem
Naudin - Tem
Agnus - Tem
Descamps - Tem
Ampen - Tem
Migliaccio Tem
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