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France: Navy Instruction Centers' pennants

Last modified: 2019-01-13 by ivan sache
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Saint-Mandrier Navy Instruction Center

[Pennant of CIN]

Pennant of CIN Saint-Mandrier, reverse - Image by Ivan Sache, 14 March 2009

The Saint-Mandrier Navy Instruction Center (Centre d'instruction naval [CIN] de Saint-Mandrier, Navy website) is the biggest instruction center of the French Navy. The CIN has two sites (90 ha) linked by a tunnel. Some 1,000 staff members train every day 1,400 seamen split into 60 classes. The two branches are "Arms / Equipments" (Detection, transmission and arms systems) and "Energy" (Floating and propulsion).

The paeninsula of Saint-Mandrier (an island until the 17th century) forms the southern part of the Bay of Toulon. Mandrier is said to have been a soldier appointed by Visigoth King Alaric II (late 5th century) to watch the coast; living as an hermit (in Latin, mandarius), he used to heal the poor. The legend reflects the double, military and hospital function of the peaninsula.
Built in 1669 on the peaninsula by convicts from Toulon, the Saint- Louis hospital was used mostly as a lazaret and a quarantine station, to avoid spreading epidemics brought by seaman to the big town of Toulon. Closed in 1785 and reused during the Revolution, the Saint- Louis hospital was completely revamped during the Restauration, with a chapel built by convicts in 1825-1829. Following the increase of the Saint-Anne hospital in Toulon, the Saint-Louis hospital was eventually closed in 1936.
Blocking the bay and controlling the port of Toulon, the paeninsula of Saint-Mandrier was crowned by several batteries in 1695. In 1812, Napoléon I, attempting to standardize the coastal fortifications, ordered the building of several "model towers", including one in Saint- Mandrier. The tower was increased to a fort in 1850, the fortifications being further increased during the Second Empire.
In 1936, the Mechanics, Firemen and Divers College (École des mécaniciens, chauffeurs et scaphandriers) was set up in the former Saint-Louis hospital. After the Second World War, the college was reopened and renamed Fleet Apprentice Mechanics College (École des apprentis mécaniciens de la flotte, EAMF), which was reorganized by Decree of 12 November 1947. The Saint-Mandrier colleges were merged in 1963 to form the Mechanics Colleges' Group (Groupe des Écoles de mécaniciens, GEM); EAMF was eventually closed in 1989 while the GEM was incorporated in 1993 into the Saint-Mandrier Naval Training Center, open in 1971 on the southern site of the paeninsula.

The pennant of the CIN Saint-Mandrier is, on the obverse, blue with a fouled anchor surmounted by "CENTRE D'INSTRUCTION NAVAL" and surmounting "DE SAINT-MANDRIER", all in gold; the reverse of the pennant is vertically divided red-blue with a white lozenge in the middle (surely recalling the flag of the Free French Naval Forces), charged with the emblem of the CIN.
The golden emblem of the CIN is framed by an anchor (representing the Navy), a cog wheel (representing the mechanics and missile operators), and a bearing crown (representing steersmen, and, in general, navigation). Below a gun (the traditional symbol of artillery colleges), God of the Seas Neptune and Saint-Mandrier pour water from a jar into the sea. Neptune holds his traditional trident and a thunderbolt (representing electricity, electronics and telecommunications); on the god's chest, the badge with the Cross of the Legion of Honour recalls that the CIN keeps the colour of the Fleet Apprentice Mechanics College (together with the colour of the Navy Gunners).

Ivan Sache, 14 March 2009