CONTENT PREVIEW
Sea Platforms

Hope lost of finding Argentine submarine crew alive

24 November 2017

Key Points

  • Reports of an underwater explosion shortly after the last communication with ARA San Juan suggest the boat was lost on 15 November
  • Relatives of the boat’s crew have claimed the submarine had not been properly maintained

Hopes of rescuing the 44 crew members from the Argentine Navy TR 1700-class submarine ARA San Juan , which disappeared on 15 November while en route back to its base at Mar del Plata, were fading as JDW closed for press on 24 November.ARA San Juan, pictured in 2007. Relatives of the boat's lost crew have accused the Argentine Navy of sending the crew to sea in a submarine that had not been properly maintained. (Santiago Rivas)ARA San Juan, pictured in 2007. Relatives of the boat's lost crew have accused the Argentine Navy of sending the crew to sea in a submarine that had not been properly maintained. (Santiago Rivas)

Concern had previously focused on the probability that the reserves of oxygen inside the boat could be close to exhaustion. However, any real hopes of finding any of the crew alive were ended after navy spokesman Captain Enrique Balbi confirmed that new information had been received about a “non-nuclear explosion’ that occurred the same day the submarine disappeared and near its last known position.

Capt Balbi implied that an implosion could have followed the blast, as the submarine hull collapsed under water pressure while sinking.

The explosion was registered by two hydro-acoustic listening stations from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) at Ascension Island in the South Atlantic and at Crozet Island near Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

Analysis of the data provided by both listening stations, made at the headquarters of the CTBTO in Vienna, shows that the explosion occurred on 15 November at 1351 h GMT (1051 h Argentine time), at a depth of 200 m, three hours after the last communication was received from San Juan .

The explosion was located in the San Jorge Gulf, 400 km southeast of the Patagonian coastal city of Puerto Madryn. The depth of the ocean in the area ranges from 70 m to3,000 m, which could make any attempt to find the submarine very difficult.

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