It’s a July evening in 2019, and the crew of search vessel Seabed Constructor control underwater drones almost 9,000 feet below the surface of the Mediterranean. The team are looking for the French submarine Minerve, which disappeared without trace in January 1968 along with its 52-strong crew. Then one of the drones seems to hit the jackpot, coming across some wreckage with the clearly visible letters “MIN.” Finally, the long-lost sub has been found – more than half a century on from the mysterious events surrounding its disappearance.
Back in 1968, however, Minerve had been engaged in a naval training exercise in which she was working in tandem with military planes. And on January 27 that year, the submarine was on her way back to the port of Toulon. Located on southern France’s Mediterranean coast, Toulon was – and is – the country’s principal naval base.