A sign of hope from Argentina's vanished submarine: Seven mysterious signals

Kristopher Drake
November 21, 2017

A multinational armada of aircraft and vessels battled high winds and raging seas Sunday as they intensified their search for a missing Argentine submarine, after apparent attempted distress calls raised hopes the 44 crew members may still be alive.

The last confirmed contact with the submarine was Wednesday, the Argentine navy said.

The German-built diesel-powered vessel set sail on Monday from the southern port of Ushuaia enroute to its base in Mar del Plata, farther north in Buenos Aires province.

Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi, quoted by the AP, said the low-frequency satellite signals received on Saturday lasted only a "few seconds", but were initially thought to have been attempts by the crew to re-establish contact. Reuters adds that Iridium says the last call detected came on Wednesday, the same day the submarine went silent.

The crew were thought to have several days of food supply, but - unlike nuclear-powered United Kingdom and U.S. submarines - the 66m (216ft) long ARA San Juan is diesel electric, meaning that it has a finite supply of fuel, food and oxygen. It had previously said it would deploy a deep-sea mission with a remotely operated vehicle and two vessels capable of rescuing people from submarines.

An Argentine national flag hangs at the entrance of the Argentine Naval Base Mar del Plata, where the missing submarine is based.

Distress calls bring hope to search for missing Argentina sub

The US Navy said Saturday it ordered its Undersea Rescue Command based in San Diego to deploy to Argentina to help with the search.

More than a dozen worldwide vessels and aircraft have joined the search, which has been hindered by stormy weather that has caused waves up to 20 feet (6 meters).

Balbi said weather conditions were not expected to improve before Tuesday. The craft was navigating normally, underwater, at a speed of five knots toward Mar del Plata when it was last heard from, he said.

Among those on board is Argentina's first female submarine officer, 35-year-old weapons officer Eliana Krawczyk.

The San Juan was inaugurated in 1983, making it the newest of the three submarines in the navy's fleet. Built in Germany, it underwent maintenance in 2008 in Argentina.

SOUTHCOM directed the deployment of the P-8A aircraft, underwater rescue teams and personnel to assist Argentina as support, the country request for worldwide assistance to locate the missing submarine and crew.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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