Rescue mission for Argentine submarine crew ends, search for sub continues

Marie Harrington
December 1, 2017

The search for 44 sailors on board a lost Argentine submarine has ended, leaving nearly no hope for their survival.

The navy also said that an explosion occurred near the time and place where the ARA San Juan sub went missing on November 15.

Spokesman Enrique Balbi said the rescue mission "extended for more than twice what is estimated for a rescue".

Some family members have denounced the navy's response to the sub's disappearance as well as the age and condition of the vessel.

"We've had 28 ships, nine aircrafts, 4000 people involved, 18 countries supporting", he told reporters.

"Despite the magnitude of the effort made, it has not been possible to locate the submarine", he said, referring to the global response that included ships, aircraft and personnel from the United States, United Kingdom, Chile and Russian Federation.

He said the search, no longer considered a rescue mission, would enter a "search and recovery" phase for the vessel.

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Officials have said the submarine had enough air for seven to 10 days when submerged.

The worldwide search for the 44 crew of the missing ARA San Juan submarine has officially been called off by the Argentine Navy, although the search for the vessel will continue in shallow waters.

"They just threw away the last hope we had", said Luis Tagliapietra, the 46-year-old father of one of the missing submariners.

Relatives of the missing had mixed feelings about Thursday's announcement.

In its final communication, the submarine reported it had overcome a mechanical breakdown that resulted from a short circuit due to the entry of water via the vessel's snorkel. The captain later communicated by satellite phone that the problem had been contained.

On Tuesday, the navy said a sound consistent with an explosion was detected in the ocean near the sub's last known location on the day it disappeared.

The government has pledged a thorough investigation once the search for the ARA San Juan has concluded.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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