Missing for more than 50 years, wreckage of submarine is finally found

Ryan W. Miller
The submarine La Minerve, which disappeared 50 years ago, has been found off the coast of Toulon, southern France, it was announced by the French Defence Minister on July 22, 2019.

The wreckage of a French submarine missing for more than 50 years has been discovered almost 30 miles from the vessel's home port of Toulon, the country's defense minister said Monday.

The submarine La Minerve vanished with 52 crew members on board as it was conducting exercises with a maritime patrol aircraft on January 27, 1968. Bad weather disrupted communications between the plane and vessel, which was never heard from again.

Search crews failed to find the sub immediately after it went missing. However, 51 years later, a renewed search employing new sonar and drone technologies led to Minerve's discovery, the French defense ministry said.

"It’s a success, a relief and a technical feat," Florence Parly, the armed forces minister, tweeted. “I am thinking of the families who have waited for so long for this moment."

A memorial at sea for the 52 crew members will be planned, the ministry said.

The renewed search came amid demands from family members of the crew, according to France 24.

Speaking with the AFP, Hervé Fauve, the son of the sub's commander, said of the discovery, "It's a relief, a huge emotion."

The vessel was found almost a mile and a half below the sea, the defense ministry said. It has never been known what exactly caused the submarine to sink, but the discovery of the wreck could provide answers.

The AFP reported that the sub was found in three pieces and with the letters "MIN" still visible on it.

Thérèse Scheirmann-Descamps, a widow of one of the sailors, told the news agency that the discovery was "such a surprise."

"Today, there are no words to describe my emotion," she said. "It is an extraordinary appeasement."

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: La Minerve, French submarine missing for 50 years, finally found