This is the story of my life so far: 68 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
Becoming the Commanding Officer of the Cybèle
In April or May 1985, after the end of my posting on the Jean de Vienne, I was given the command of a minehunter, the "Cybèle", for the duration of one year. That will be the most interesting post of my naval career.
A minehunter is a naval vessel that seeks, detects, and destroys individual naval mines. Minesweepers, on the other hand, clear mined areas as a whole, without prior detection of mines.
The Cybèle was one of the five minehunters of the Circé class, that were all in Brest.
As I knew next to nothing about mine warfare, I was sent to one week classroom course to learn about it. It seems strange that somebody that knows nothing about the job of a ship is given command of the ship. However, there is a saying in the French Navy: "L'officier de marine sait tout" (the Navy officer knows everything). It is mostly said to make fun of those that pretends to know everything, or at least have an opinion about every subject.
I turned out that very quickly I learned the job and I was able to lead my crew very easily.
Before becoming the commanding officer of the Cybèle, I spent a week with my predecessor to learn a little the practice of mine warfare and to get a sense of the ship and of the crew.
During a short training on a simulated mine, I was shown the scope of the sonar and I was told that the mine had been found.
- Do you see it, sir?
I must say that what I was seeing on the sonar scope looked to me like snow. However, three weeks later, I was able to see the mines like all the others.
There were several things that I did not like in the way my predecessor was commanding the ship, and I promised myself to not make the same mistakes.
So, 1985 was an important year for me: I became the CO of a ship, and I welcomed two of my children.
Continue to Part 77
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