©Jérôme Bosger

Espadon submarine restoration work

Reopening: July 2021

After thirty-three years of visits, the Espadon submarine closed its hatches for restoration work. During this period, major works will be undertaken to guarantee the long-term survival of this exceptional piece of heritage. In partnership with the Heritage Foundation, businesses and individuals alike can join forces to finance this project. Upon completion of all restoration work, the submarine will be ready to offer visitors a whole new experience!

Dive into history with the Espadon submarine

The Espadon Submarine once belonged to the French Navy. Launched in 1960, it served for 25 years, used for observation missions and for training submariners. Nowadays, it is the last example of the Narval-class torpedo submarines. As the first French submarine ever to have dived under the ice, this vessel is a precious example of 20th-century technical and maritime history.

As an official exhibit for Saint-Nazaire Ecomusée, Musée de France, it is the only submarine to have the honour and protection bestowed by such a status.

Nearly 3 million visitors

over its 33 years of being open to the public
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Having opened to visitors in 1987, this was the first submarine in France that you could board and explore. Since then, nearly 3 million people have looked around its engines, navigation equipment, and onboard living quarters. After thirty-three years of visits, the submarine needed to close its hatches temporarily, as rust and corrosion threatened its strength inside and out: time to launch an ambitious programme of restoration to guarantee the long-term survival of this exceptional piece of heritage!

The submarine is due to be open again in July 2021, ready to offer visitors a whole new experience and an unforgettable journey under the waves.

The submarine restoration project

Discover the various steps in the programme being undertaken to restore the Espadon.

The outer hull:

  • Restoration of the deck: perforated sheet metal, corrosion on the base of the tower, missing hatches
  • Cathodic protection of the submerged parts of the hull
  • Treatment of the corroded air-water zone
  • Repainting

Programme - Espadon submarine restoration work


  • Cleaning and treatment of the corroded areas
  • Cleaning and restoration of paintwork
  • Treatment of the upper deck
  • Treatment and restoration of fabrics, wood and metal
  • Remplacement of missing parts, using identical pieces from other submarines.

This restoration project is led by the conservation team of Saint-Nazaire Ecomuseum, in collaboration with expert restorers and experienced organisations from Musées de France and Monuments Historiques, accompanied by former submariners.

Support the submarine’s restoration

in partnership with the heritage foundation



Businesses and individuals alike can join forces to finance this project thanks to the ‘Fondation du patrimoine’ heritage foundation. By contributing, you will participate in the restoration of the Espadon submarine and support a large-scale project seeking to preserve and showcase this exceptional example of French maritime heritage.

Logos Partners Espadon submarine restoration project