Disappeared on November 15, there are still no traces. Day by day, the keys to search and research.
This Tuesday marks 90 days since the track of the submarine ARA “San Juan” of the Argentine Navy was lost. Disappeared on November 15 with 44 crew on board in the waters of the South Atlantic, this is a summary of three months of mystery and investigations.
November 6 to 9, 2017
The submarine ARA “San Juan” participates in the military exercises Stage of Mar III in waters of the Beagle Channel, in front of the southern province of Tierra del Fuego and then sails with 44 crew returning to its station at the Naval Base Mar del Plata, in a journey in which it collaborates with the supervision of the exclusive economic zone of the Argentine continental shelf.
The submarine makes contact for the last time. It reports a fault in the battery system that could be solved. Its last reported location was 240 nautical miles (432 kilometers) from the coast, in the San Jorge Gulf, southeast of the Valdés Peninsula and some 1,300 kilometers south of the Argentine capital.
Faced with the lack of communication with the submarine, which had to be reported twice a day, the Navy begins the search by sea and air. At night it begins to be known the news in the means about the disappearance of the submarine Ara San Juan, with 44 people on board.
The Navy confirms that it has no information on the ship, launches the submarine search and rescue protocol (SARSUB) notice and begins to receive assistance from other countries. The president, Mauricio Macri, settles in Chapadmalal, near the Naval Base of Mar del Plata. The “search and rescue state” is declared.
The submarine has oxygen, fuel, water and food for 90 days, but must climb every 48 hours to the surface to charge their batteries.
The Ministry of Defense reports that seven satellite calls were made that would have been made from the submarine ARA “San Juan” and that did not connect with the bases of the Navy. The P-3 airplane belonging to the Ice Bridge program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States (NASA) flies over the area where they are looking for the submarine and joins the search.
The Navy admits that in its latest report the submarine warned of ” a short circuit in the batteries ” and at that time was ordered to return by the most direct route to Mar del Plata. The company Iridium denies that the satellite calls have come from the submarine.
They detect a constant noise in waters of the South Atlantic and suspect that it could come from the submarine. The president visits the relatives gathered at the Mar del Plata Naval Base. The ARA “San Juan” had arrival date to that base for the night of the 19th or the early morning of November 20 but it does not arrive. The search continues with the help of boats and planes from ten countries but is hampered by bad weather conditions.
In a video recorded from the Destroyer ARA “Sarandí”, one of the ships participating in the search, you can see the large waves and strong winds in the search area.
President Mauricio Macri traveled to Mar del Plata to show solidarity with the family members of the crew. There, he was rebuked by one of the people present, who said: “Why do not you get down on other issues, they do not come down on something really important that is the life of all our relatives repairing a submarine? which is very old. ”
The maritime search is reinforced after the weather improves and a Norwegian ship sails with the Submarine Rescue Command sent by the United States. You can see white flares and a life raft but they do not belong to the submarine. Other countries make available means to help in the raking operation that takes place in the waters of the South Atlantic.
Germany contributed a P3 aircraft, France a Falcon 50 aircraft, Colombia a C235 aircraft, Peru a Fokker 60 aircraft and Uruguay a B 200 aircraft. In turn, they decree the health alert in a hospital in Comodoro Rivadavia as part of the rescue procedure.
The United States informs the Navy that on November 15 hydrophones located in the ocean detected a loud noise, a “hydro acoustic anomaly”, in the area where the submarine sailed. The president of the United States, Donald Trump, sent a message of support for the Argentine people in the search for the submarine: ” I gave the order to help Argentina with the search and rescue mission of his missing submarine”.
The Navy reports that on November 15 there was a violent event consistent with an explosion in the area where the submarine was sailing, based on a report from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). The hope of finding the 44 crew members alive is undermined and there are scenes of pain and sorrow at the Naval Base in Mar del Plata, where their relatives are gathered. The search for the submersible continues.
“The search zone is very large, the environment is hostile and it is very difficult” to locate the submarine, acknowledges the Navy spokesman. The size of the area in which the submarine is currently being searched is double the province of Tucumán.
Macri promises to follow “until the end” the search for “San Juan” after knowing that there was an explosion in the area where he had disappeared days before. The president, in addition, announces a ” serious and profound investigation that throws certainties ” about what happened.
The Argentine Navy does not rule out a “situation of extreme survival” of the 44 crew members of the submarine.
It transcends that the submarine reported in its last communication a ” fire principle “, product of a short circuit generated by the entrance of seawater, in a sector where the batteries that feed it were housed.
” They are critical hours, of tension, anguish and worry, we have not yet been able to find the submarine “, says the Navy spokesman after 13 days of searching. It is known that the submarine made eight calls at dawn and then disappeared.
The Navy reduces the search area of the submarine to a radius of 40 square kilometers, an area equivalent to 20 times the city of Buenos Aires.
Argentina finishes the operation of search and rescue of survivors of “San Juan”. ” No evidence of the shipwreck was found in the explored areas, without contact with the submarine or its rafts, there will be no rescue of people “, confirms the Navy spokesman.
The head of the Navy, Admiral Marcelo Srur, suspended “lack of discipline” Rear Admiral Luis Enrique López Mazzeo and captain Claudio Villamide, in order to ensure the transparency of the investigation of the disappearance of the submarine.
The spokesman of the Navy, Enrique Balbi, informs that the search is carried out at a depth of between 800 and 950 meters. It is confirmed that 5 vessels are still working in the area inspecting three new contacts.
International search assistance begins to withdraw. The United States reassigns the “Atlantis”, the last ship they had dedicated to the operation and Russia announces that it stops participating in the tasks in January. Five vessels – the destroyer ARA Sarandí, the ARA Puerto Argentino and the Malvinas Islands warnings with the ROV (remotely operated vehicle) Russian “Panther Plus” on board, and the oceanographic ships Atlantis of the United States of America and the Yantar of the Russian Federation – participate in the search.
January 11, 2018
The Office of Naval Intelligence of the United States maintains that the ARA San Juan imploded in 40 milliseconds and that the 44 crew members of the submarine “died instantly”. Follow the search in the area of the last contact.
The former Minister of Defense and head of the Front for Victory in Deputies block, Agustín Rossi, says that the previous administration left “the submarine was in excellent condition when sailing.”
26 of January
Federal Police officers raid the installations of the Mar del Plata Naval Base by order of the federal judge of Caleta Olivia, Marta Yáñez. Meanwhile, relatives of the 44 crew members meet with Defense Minister Oscar Aguad and ask him to offer a reward to companies to search for the submarine.
According to the federal judge of Caleta Olivia, Marta Yáñez, by means of a report of the Navy that dates from December of 2016 it was possible to specify “a series of anomalies and defects in the operation” of the submarine that requested “the immediate solution” of the inconveniences to avoid that they derive in major problems.
News reports claim that the ARA San Juan had mission of espionage of British ships and planes. The force issued a statement later in which it categorically denies that the missing submarine ARA San Juan was spying British ships.
February 6, 2018
For the second time since the disappearance of the submarine, President Macri meets with family members of the submariners in the Casa Rosada. Defense Minister Oscar Aguad announces that the government will offer a reward of US $ 5 million for anyone who finds the submarine.