The S637 submarine Espadon was built in 1957 by the Augustin Normand shipyards in Le Havre, launched in 1958 and declared "fit for active service" on the 1st of April 1960. Today, the public is welcomed on board for a tour of the submarine's passageways.
It was fifth in the Narval series, the first generation of submarines to be built after the war, between 1950 and 1958. 78 metres long, the Espadon could dive for 8 days at a time. Its three diesel engines and two electric motors, and the shape of its hull, new for the period, gave it a maximum speed of 18 knots when diving, 16 on the surface. Its radius of action was 15,000 nautical miles at a speed of 8 knots.
Between 1960 and 1985, the Espadon spent 2,561 days at sea and 33,796 hours underwater. It travelled 360,547 nautical miles (about 650,000 km) which is the equivalent of 17 times the earth's circumference. Its patrols took it from the coast of Africa to the icy Poles, from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean.
The final mission
On 10 September 1984, the Espadon left Lorient on its last mission, with 15 of the 16 captains who had commanded it on board. But unlike the Marsouin or the Narval, which ended up in the scrapyard, the Espadon was beginning a new career. Towed from its base, it got a real star's welcome on 23 August 1986 in Saint-Nazaire, at the Festival of the Sea. For the first time in France a submarine was to be decommissioned and opened to the public in the fortified precincts of the submarine base, built by the Germans during World War II.
Espadon, avenue de la Forme écluse, port of Saint-Nazaire
Lo-call number for information and bookings for visits : 02 28 540 640