French submarine Minerve (S647)

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Flore, sister ship of Minerve
Flore, sister ship of Minerve
Name: Minerve
Namesake: Minerva
Builder: Chantiers Dubigeon, Nantes
Laid down: May 1958
Launched: 31 May 1961
Completed: 31 May 1961
Commissioned: 10 June 1964
Homeport: Toulon
Fate: Sank 27 January 1968
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Daphné-class submarine
  • 860 tonnes (846 long tons) surfaced
  • 1,038 tonnes (1,022 long tons) submerged
Length: 57.75 m (189 ft 6 in)
Beam: 6.74 m (22 ft 1 in)
Depth: 5.25 m (17 ft 3 in)
  • 2 × 450 kW (603 hp) SEMT Pielstick-Jeumont-Schneider Type 12 diesel engines
  • 2 × 1,000 hp (746 kW) electric motors
  • 2 shafts
  • 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced
  • 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) snorkeling
  • 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) submerged
Range: 10,000 nmi (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at 7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph) surfaced
Endurance: 30 days
Test depth: 300 m (980 ft)
  • 6 officers
  • 24 non-commissioned officers
  • 20 sailors
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • DRUA 31 radar
  • DUUA 2B sonar
  • DSUV 2 passive sonar
  • DUUX acoustic telemeter
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
ARUR 10B radar detector
  • 12 × 550 mm (22 in) torpedo tubes (8 bow, 4 stern)
  • 12 × torpedoes or missiles

Minerve was a French submarine, one of nine of the Daphné class. The relatively small submarine was an experimental missile-carrying submarine with a diesel engine. She had a maximum speed of 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph).

Service history[edit]

Minerve was laid down in May 1958 at the Chantiers Dubigeon shipyard in Nantes, and launched on 31 May 1961. After a shakedown cruise to Londonderry Port, Bergen, and Gothenburg in November 1962, the submarine sailed from Cherbourg to Toulon, arriving on 22 December 1962. She was commissioned into the 1st Submarine Squadron on 10 June 1964. Minerve operated solely in the Mediterranean, and was refitted at Missiessy Quay, Toulon, in 1967.[2]


On 27 January 1968 at 07:55 hrs, Minerve was travelling just under the surface using her snorkel, roughly 25 nautical miles (46 km) from her base in Toulon, when she advised an accompanying Breguet Atlantic aircraft that she would be at her berth in about an hour; 52 crew, including six officers, were on board. She was never heard from again. She was lost in waters between 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) and 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) deep.[3]

Commander Philipe Bouillot later said that Minerve's new captain Lieutenant André Fauve had spent 7,000 hours submerged over four years on submarines of the same class and never had a problem. The only factor known that could have caused her to sink was the weather, which was extremely bad at the time of her loss.[3]

The French Navy promptly launched a search for the missing submarine mobilizing numerous ships, including the aircraft carrier Clemenceau and the submersible SP-350 Denise under the supervision of Jacques Cousteau, but found nothing, and the operation was called off on 2 February. However, the search for Minerve, under the name Operation Reminer continued into 1969 and utilized the submersible Archimède and the US survey ship USNS Mizar. To this day no trace of the vessel has been found.[4]

Minerve was lost at about the same time as the INS Dakar (a few days apart), over 1,450 miles (2,330 km) away. Two more submarines were lost to unknown causes in the same year, the Soviet submarine K-129 and the US submarine USS Scorpion.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roche, Jean-Michel (2012). "Sous-marin Minerve : Caractéristiques principales". (in French). Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Roche, Jean-Michel (2012). "Sous-marin Minerve". (in French). Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "La tragédie de la Minerve" (in French). Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Roche, Jean-Michel (2012). "Historique du sous-marin Minerve". (in French). Retrieved 6 February 2013. 

External links[edit]