A trivial accident would be the cause of the fire that ravaged the nuclear submarine Pearl in Toulon, said, Tuesday 1er September, the new naval chief of staff, Pierre Vandier.
“It is believed that the fire was caused by lighting that began to consume a sheet of vinyl plastic that was in a wooden box” installed as part of the renovation work, Admiral Vandier told reporters after his handover of the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, at the quayside in the port of Toulon.
“As it was a box (…), the observation of the start of fire was late and then the fire was extremely powerful ” in a place where “A lot of air” was circulating, lamented Mr. Vandier, relying on the first elements of technical expertise.
The fire started at 10:35 a.m. on June 12 in front of this building, one of six French attack nuclear submarines, and was not extinguished until 12:50 a.m.
The wooden box had been installed to “Avoid contaminating the boat” with “Asbestos remains” that the hull could contain, during sanding (cleaning) and painting operations. The technical investigations and the judicial investigation opened after the fire are still ongoing, the navy said.
Whether or not to rebuild the building
A “In-depth analysis of the condition of the submarine” will be presented in the fall to the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, said the latter, who was present in Toulon on Tuesday for Admiral Vandier to take office. These first elements will allow“Assess all possible scenarios and assess how” the submarine “Can be repaired and put back to sea”, said the minister.
“During October, we will decide if we can rebuild this ship and under what conditions, or if the cost and the technical aspects mean that we will have to find other solutions”, also specified the new boss of the navy.
Building “Had been undergoing major maintenance for several months” and “No nuclear fuel, no weapon, no missile, no torpedo, no ammunition was on board”authorities said at the time of the fire. “The building was almost empty, completely exposed. “
Pearl is the last of the six French Rubis-type ANS to enter service (1993). Capable of diving to more than 300 m, the mission of its seventy crew members is to track down enemy buildings, escort the aircraft carrier, carry out intelligence missions near enemy coasts or to deploy special forces.