July 22 (UPI) -- U.S. seabed explorers and the French navy have located a submarine that's been missing for more than 50 years, after decades of prior searches were never able to track down the vessel and its lost 52-man crew.
Officials said Houston-based Ocean Infinity found the La Minerve sub off the coast of Toulon in the Mediterranean Sea, the area in which it sunk in January 1968. The search stemmed from renewed efforts this year by the French navy to find the lost vessel.
High-tech equipment was used to map and model tides and currents from the time period and seismic data helped narrow the scope for the missing sub. Officials said Ocean Infinity ultimately found La Minerve at a depth of more than 7,700 feet.
"It's a success, a relief and a technical feat," French Defense Minister Florence Parly tweeted. "I am thinking of the families who have waited for so long for this moment."
The sub's final resting place is about 27 miles from the naval base in Toulon. The French Navy doesn't know what caused the sub to sink in 1968, but officials hope its discovery will lead to an answer.
Herve Fauve, the son of the submarine's commander, said he and other families felt "great emotion."
"Many people told me they were supporting me during the search because they didn't want to feel alone, but they didn't believe it would be found," he said.
Another relative said, "It's the end of a long wait and many questions."
Ocean Infinity said it used underwater drones to find the wreckage. The exploration firm also found the San Juan submarine that sank off the coast of Argentina last year.