Ocean Infinity Finds Long-Lost French Submarine

Seabed Constructor, right, at the site of the wreck (Florence Parly / Twitter)

Published Jul 22, 2019 9:37 PM by The Maritime Executive

American deep sea search company Ocean Infinity has added to its string of high-profile finds by locating the lost French submarine Minerve, which went missing in the Mediterranean in 1968. 

"We have just found the Minerve. It's a success, a relief and a technical feat," said French defense minister Florence Parly in a Twitter post. "I think of the families who have been waiting for this moment so long."

Minerve was a mid-size diesel-electric attack sub commissioned in 1964. She was involved in a sub-hunting exercise with a maritime patrol plane off Toulon, France on January 27, 1968 when she disappeared with all hands. 

Using a modern reconstruction of the tides, currents and circumstances at the time of the Minerve's loss, the search team narrowed the area for the hunt. Ocean Infinity's survey vessel Seabed Constructor arrived to begin the search last week, and she found the Minerve on Monday - achieving in five days what could not be done by multiple search teams in years past.

The Ocean Infinity team located the Minerve in about 7,800 feet of water some 30 miles off the coast of Toulon The sub's wreckage rests in three pieces on the bottom, and positive identification was possible because a portion of Minerve's name was visible on the bow section. 

The cause of Minerve's loss is unknown, and will likely remain that way. There are no plans to raise the wreck from the extreme depth of its resting place, Premar Mediterranee spokesman Stanislas Gentien told the Times. “The most important thing was to locate the Minerve to help families grieve,” he said. “We won’t try to understand how it sank.”