Argentina officially announced a $ 4.8 million bounty on Wednesday for anyone offering useful information about the location of the ARA San Juan submarine that disappeared since November in the South Atlantic with 44 crew members.
The announcement of the Ministry of Defense of the government of Mauricio Macri, published in the Official Gazette, enables the entry of private companies into the search operation currently carried out by the Argentine Navy with the collaboration of vessels and technology from Russia.
“It is necessary to provide a finished response both to the whole society and to the relatives of our fellow crew members of the submarine ARA San Juan about the events that occurred and the fate of the vessel,” said the Ministry of Defense.
The government had advanced last week that would offer a reward for data that led to locate the submarine after a meeting between the relatives of the crew and Macri.
The TR-1700 electric diesel submarine of German manufacture and in operations since the 80s disappeared on November 15 when it sailed from Ushuaia, in the extreme south of Argentina, to its base in Mar del Plata, 400 kilometers south of Buenos Aires, after participating in a training exercise.
The Navy ruled out the survival of the crew.
An unprecedented operation with the participation of 18 nations was deployed by the submarine, although to date Russia is the only foreign country that collaborates in the search with submersible inspection vehicles and an oceanographic vessel. The Navy and experts attribute the lack of success to a slope that resembles an inverted mountain range with canyons that go from west to east in the tracking area. Due to its characteristics some objects can be detected and others can be hidden in huge cracks.
In this sense, the Ministry of Defense considered that “it is necessary to generate the appropriate incentives so that the search made by the naval material of the Argentine Navy is complemented with the participation of private sector companies”.
The economic reward of 98 million pesos is destined to “private subjects that provide information and useful data that allow to find the whereabouts and the precise location of the submarine”.
Shortly before losing contact with his superiors, the commander of the ARA San Juan reported that the ship had suffered a breakdown due to the entry of water into the batteries through the snorkel – the device by which the submersible takes air from the surface to operate their engines – but that the incident had been resolved. Hours later an explosion was recorded near where the submarine had been lost contact.
The government and the Navy have ruled out the possibility that the submarine has been the object of an attack by a foreign fleet in an event linked to its mission to detect the presence of vessels in the illegal fishing zone.