FNS Espadon - (S637)
The fifth submarine of the Narval class of submarines built by AC Augustin Normand Le Harve, you know them as Chantiers l’ Atlantique.
Espandon was Commissioned April 2nd 1960 and would go on to serve The Marine Nationale for 26 years being decommissioned on August 23rd 1986, one year later she was turned into a museum and is housed inside one of the former world war two U boat pens built by the Germans at Ville Port St Nazaire.
Much of the Espandon’s career remains classified but what we do know is that just a year after her commission during an exercise she was hit by two practice torpedoes resulting in damage to her propeller, she managed to surface but had to be taken in tow back to port at Toulon.
After the repairs were completed and in the same year Espandon would again have another accident this time colliding with the submarine Laubie which was a former German type VIIC U boat, the result of the collision meant that Laubie was removed from service and scrapped.
In 1963 Espandon once again was involved in a incident this time a fire had erupted in the forward torpedo room injuring 4 men one of the men would later die of his injuries, the cause of the fire is not publicly known.
In a change of fortune Espandon and her sister Marsourin were selected to attempt to study the feasibility of navigation under the ice, both submarines entered the Norwegian sea and both made it to 70 degrees north latitude under the ice, due to fact they were not nuclear powered it is seen as a remarkable achievement for its time.
In 1966 to 1968 Espandon entered long overhaul the result of which was almost an entire gut out of the submarine in terns of SONAR sensors, but she also received upgraded sail, and rudders and this is how she looks today.
Write up and image by Blair Shaw