The French submarine La Minerve, whose wreck was found Sunday off Toulon more than 50 years after its disappearance, will remain "a maritime sanctuary" and will not be reassembled, announced Monday the maritime prefect of the Mediterranean. "We do not touch the wreck, it is a maritime sanctuary, this is the case for all wrecks, at least in the Navy," said during a press conference Charles-Henri de Che, prefect and vice-admiral of squadron, himself submariner: "Everything will remain in the state (...) it is called an underwater burial".
A ceremony organized in the weeks or months to come
A ceremony, the date of which has not yet been set, will be celebrated at the scene of the disappearance in the presence of the families, "in the weeks or months to come," added the maritime prefect, who was responsible for the operations of research revived eight months ago by the Minister of Armies Florence Parly. "It was the goal, and today it is first to the families that we think," said Charles-Henri de Che, explaining that the subject was in no way to rebuild the wreck, nor to find explanations for the disaster, an objective too "complicated".
The Minerve was found at a depth of 2.370 m, 45 km south of Toulon, "20 km further south than previously sought after," he explained. At the time, traces of oil and oil had been found in an area that had been favored by research, but was further north than the sinking. The Minerve was found in three distinct parts spread over about 300 meters long, with between the front and the back of the submarine a heap of debris.
A decisive contribution from the Office of the Atomic Energy Commissioner
Charles-Henri de Ché emphasized the decisive contribution of the Commissariat for Atomic Energy (CEA) which, "thanks to calculators which it did not have five months ago", could help the research teams to locate the pavement. "The analysis of secondary and tertiary seismic signals, as well as the analysis of deep sea currents" have made it possible to better target research, he added.
The discovery itself was made late Sunday afternoon by a drone of the US company Ocean Infinity who had won a tender launched by the Navy and chartered a ship flying the Norwegian flag, the Seabed Constructor. This same company had already found the Argentine submarine San Juan, disappeared more recently. A first picture taken by the US drone clearly shows the letters "MIN" painted in red on the kiosk of the submarine, as well as the letter S, beginning of the numbering of the Minerve, "S 647", which leaves no doubt that this is indeed this ship.