Missing Argentine Submarine Search Intensifies despite Dim Hopes for Successful Recovery
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Argentine navy sources say that efforts have increased to locate a submarine missing off the Argentine coast since last Wednesday.
A naval spokesman said Monday that the search effort has been "tripled" with ships and aircraft from at least seven countries looking for the ARA San Juan, according to the Voice of America. The search has been hampered by 25-foot waves and 45 mph winds in the area.
More than a dozen ships and aircraft from Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, the United States, Britain, Chile and Brazil joined the search effort to find the ARA San Juan. The submarine has a 44-member crew, including Argentina's first female submarine officer, Eliana Krawczyk.
US Southern Command Dispatches Aircraft to Search Area
The U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) said Friday that it has “directed the U.S. Navy to deploy a P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft to Bahia Blanca, Argentina, Nov. 18 to support the South American nation’s ongoing search for the submarine A.R.A. San Juan in the waters of the Southern Atlantic.”
The P-8A Poseidon aircraft and its 21-person crew departed from El Salvador’s Comalapa Air Base, where it had been supporting counter-illicit trafficking maritime patrol operations.
The sub had reported a malfunction and was headed back to base when it went missing, Reuters said.
Naval Commander Gabriel Galeazzi told reporters that the submarine disappeared 268 miles (432 km) off the coast. “The submarine surfaced and reported a malfunction, which is why its ground command ordered it to return to its naval base at Mar del Plata,” he explained.
Detected Intermittent Satellite Communications Did Not Come from the Submarine
On Saturday, intermittent satellite communications were detected. Officials said the signals likely came from the submarine.
But hopes for a successful search waned on Monday when the Argentine navy reported that the detected satellite calls did not in fact come from the submarine. Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told Reuters that the communications “did not correspond to the satellite phone of the submarine San Juan.”
Balbi said that the ARA San Juan sent its last signal on Wednesday. “Obviously, the number of hours that have passed — two days in which there has been no communication — is of note,” he said.
The ARA San Juan is the newest of the three submarines in the Argentine’s navy’s fleet.