By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Argentine naval sources say they have not given up hope of finding the navy submarine that has been missing since November 15, VOA News reports. However, families of the crew waiting at the sub’s Mar del Plata naval base have decided to abandon their vigil and go home after scheduling a religious ceremony on Saturday.
The Argentine navy has not declared the crew members dead. Nor has it said if there is any chance of finding survivors, VOA added.
The ARA San Juan entered its 10th day missing on Saturday, November 25. That was the date experts had said would likely be the limit of the sub’s oxygen supply even if it remained intact beneath the sea, an AP report said.
The ARA San Juan with a crew of 44, including Argentina’s first female submarine officer, Eliana Krawczyk, was last heard from on November 15, when it reported an explosion deep in the Atlantic Ocean. At the time, the sub was about 250 miles off Argentina’s southeastern Atlantic coast.
The Argentine navy described the explosion as an “anomalous, short, violent” incident. The explosion was detected by seismologists in the United States and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), an international nuclear weapons monitor in Vienna, Austria. The CTBTO informed Argentine authorities, the New York Times reported.
“Hydroacoustic stations HA10 (Ascension Island) and HA04 (Crozet) detected a signal from an underwater impulsive event that occurred at 13:51 GMT on 15 November,” the CTBTO said in a statement. “The location of the event is as follows: Event Latitude: -46.12 deg; Event Longitude: -59.69 deg, which is in the vicinity of the last known location of the ARA San Juan.”
An Argentine navy spokesman told Reuters that the sound was “consistent with an explosion.” The CTBTO was more guarded. “It could be consistent with an explosion, but there is no certainty about this,” CTBTO hydroacoustic engineer Mario Zampolli told the British news agency.
Family members at the Mar del Plata navy base reacted angrily while others collapsed in tears at the news of the suspected explosion, BBC News reported. Some relatives accused the Argentine navy of lying to them and of raising false hopes. Others blamed the government, saying a lack of investment and corruption in the armed forces made the submarine unsafe.
Multiple Ships and Aircraft Have Searched an Area of 185,000 Square Miles
An international flotilla involving more than a dozen ships and aircraft – including underwater search vehicles and two undersea rescue systems from the United States – from several South American nations and Britain have been in the 185,000 square mile search area for about 10 days now. The search was hampered by 25-foot waves and 45 mph winds in the area.
On Thursday, Russia sent navy specialists and analysts to areas off the coast of Argentina to assist in the search, VOA reported.