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World

AFP
July 22, 2019

French submarine lost in 1968 found at last in Mediterranean

World

AFP
Mon, Jul 22, 2019

Marseille: A French submarine that went missing in the western Mediterranean in 1968 has been found, officials said Monday, ending a 51-year wait for families of the crew who continue to seek answers to the naval disaster.

The diesel-electric Minerve submarine was lost off France´s southern coast with 52 sailors on board on January 27, 1968.

"We found the submarine Minerve last night located 45 kilometres (30 miles) south of Toulon, about 20 kilometres further south than where it was searched for in 1968," the French maritime prefect of the Mediterranean, Vice Admiral Charles Henri du Che, told reporters in Toulon.

Defence Minister Florence Parly on Twitter hailed the discovery as "a success, a relief and a technical feat", adding she was thinking of the families who had "waited for this moment for so long."

At the start of the year, Parly announced a new search mission involving naval vessels and marine experts following fresh demands from families for an effort to find the final resting place of their loved ones.

"It´s a relief, hugely emotional," the son of the Minerve´s captain, Herve Fauve, told AFP after years of calling for the search mission. "These 52 sailors had been abandoned in some ways."

Tides and currents in the western Mediterranean were modelled by the French team, as well as seismic data from the time that indicated the likely implosion of the vessel as it dropped to the seabed.

The discovery was ultimately made on Sunday by a boat belonging to private US company Ocean Infinity, which found the Minerve at a depth of 2,370 metres (7,800 feet), a senior French naval officer told AFP.

The search vessel -- the Seabed Constructor, which is equipped with underwater drones with powerful cameras -- arrived on the scene last Tuesday, the officer said on condition of anonymity.

The Seabed Constructor was also successful in locating Argentina´s lost San Juan submarine in November 2018 which disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean a year earlier.