A childhood dream
"Serving my country has always been something important. At the age of 14, I read Robert Merle's The Day Does Not Rice for Us, which takes place in an SSBN, a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine." Exactly the same type that it has evolved on in recent years. "With my childish naivety, I dreamed of this. There were no female submariners at the time, and still not when I joined the Navy in 2010. I spent four years "on the surface" as an engineer officer, and in 2014 I made known my wish to pass "on the other side of the diopter", underwater. In reality, the door opened, and I volunteered." Two and a half years of training later, she was the first woman appointed to the position of Deputy Commanding Officer on SSBN. He is one of the major deputies of the commander, a core of the general staff, responsible for 50 people and responsible for the maintenance and technical management of the facilities (nuclear boiler, regeneration of the atmosphere ..).
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A life apart
"SSBNs ensure the permanence of the nuclear deterrent mission. It is one but very big mission. The ability to deliver nuclear weapons from the sea if necessary is the keystone of French defence. We must be able to respond to the presidential order at all times." And, inevitably, to lead a life apart. "You put a submarine, 16 missiles and 110 people (including two or three women), all this for seventy days underwater, it's dizzying! At the same time, it's a bit of an extraordinary job done by normal people. No one has the isolation gene. Depriving oneself of the sun, of one's family for seventy days is not trivial. An SSBN "listens", but it never "speaks" when it is at sea. It is melted in, undetectable. Contact with the outside world is through a "Familygram" of 40 words per week. Being in a hostile environment creates a fairly strong community of destiny."
Water everywhere and nowhere
"There is no porthole in a submarine, so you never see it at sea. Yet it is everywhere: it carries us, crosses the collectors. It is omnipresent. The sea is dual, it is a dangerous element that protects us, and it is the one that has always attracted me the most, it is part of my life. I was posted to Brest, Toulon and Cherbourg; you have to imagine that my RER to go to work was then a transrade!"