French submarine lost at sea in 1968 found 51 years later

Image: AFP
Image: AFP – Minerve

A French submarine that went missing with all hands on board over 50 years ago has finally been found, officials in Toulon confirmed on Monday, July 22.

The wreck of the Daphné-class diesel-electric submarine Minerve was discovered in the Mediterranean off France’s southern coast on the evening (local time) of Sunday, July 21.

A French Navy officer speaking on condition of anonymity said that Seabed Constructor, a subsea survey and construction vessel operated by US-based Ocean Infinity, located the wreck at a depth of 2,370 metres approximately 45 kilometres off Toulon.

Although Minerve was found broken into three groups of pieces over an area spanning 300 metres on the seabed, the crew of Seabed Constructor were nonetheless able to confirm the identity of the wreck through the lettering on its hull, the officer added.

Officials in Toulon said the wreck site was about 20 kilometres south of where authorities had first searched for Minerve shortly after it went missing on January 27, 1968.

The cause of the submarine’s sinking, which had claimed the lives of all 52 crewmembers on board, remains unknown.

The discovery comes after the French government resumed its efforts to locate the vessel and to determine the reasons for its loss earlier this month.

Minerve was one of four submarines lost at sea in 1968. The US Navy’s USS Scorpion, the Soviet Navy’s K-129, and the Israeli Navy’s INS Dakar all sank that same year in the Atlantic, in the North Pacific, and in the waters off Crete, respectively.

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