Stormy weather hampers search for Argentinian submarine

21 November, 2017, 01:20 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Distress calls bring hope to search for missing Argentina sub

The pioneering submariner had been aboard the ARA San Juan - the newest of the three operated by the Argentine navy - when it made the same trip from Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, to Mar del Plata previous year without incident, her sister said.

Gonzalez said the navy had intensified an aerial hunt off the country's southern Atlantic coast after adverse weather conditions spurred waves up to 26 feet (8 meters) and made a maritime search hard.

Satellite calls that had raised hopes of finding an Argentine submarine that has been lost at sea for five days did not come from the 44 crew members on board, Argentina's navy said Monday, complicating an global rescue effort that has already been hindered by stormy weather.

Speaking of a "communication failure", the navy said the submarine is not considered lost, while Balbi denied a report that there may have been a fire onboard.

"It's dependent upon the last time they actually recharged their batteries, how long ago they refreshed the air, what's inside the submarine", former U.S. Navy diver and submariner William Craig Reed told CNN.

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A search of 80 percent of the area initially targeted for the operation turned up no sign of the vessel on the ocean surface, he said, but the crew should have ample supplies of food and oxygen.

The calls "did not correspond to the satellite phone of the submarine San Juan", Balbi said.

U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) directed the deployment of this equipment and personnel to Argentina to support the country's request for worldwide assistance aimed at locating the missing submarine and crew.

The sub was heading from a base in southern Argentina's Tierra del Fuego archipelago to Mar del Plata.

Specialist underwater rescue equipment has arrived in Argentina from the United States and more boats and planes have also joined the search, which has been hampered by heavy winds and high waves. The submarine also has an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) and a satellite communications buoy that can be deployed if the vessel is in distress.

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The ARA San Juan was returning from a routine mission to Ushuaia, near the southern-most tip of South America, towards Mar del Plata.

"Right now, signal analysis is under way, but so far the current data could not generate useful information to locate the submarine", said Enrique Balbi, Argentina's Navy spokesman.

The government on Sunday said it could not confirm that the attempts had come from the ARA San Juan.

The Argentine military has also been working with a U.S. company that specializes in satellite communication to determine the location of the submarine. He said similar conditions were expected for the next two days.

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