The submarine ARA San Juan that vanished in the Atlantic over a year ago with 44 sailors on board has finally been detected at a depth of 800 meters, the Argentine military has confirmed.
The ARA San Juan was discovered by Ocean Infinity, an American company contracted by the Argentine military to lead the search effort. The company’s vessel, Seabed Constructor, “has positively identified” the missing submarine lying at a chilling depth of 800 meters, the Argentine Navy confirmed in a tweet on Saturday morning.
El #MinisterioDeDefensa y la #ArmadaArgentina informan que en el día de la fecha, habiéndose investigado el punto de interés N°24 informado por Ocean Infinity, mediante la observación realizada con un ROV a 800 mts de profundidad, se ha dado identificación positiva al #AraSanJuan
— Armada Argentina (@Armada_Arg) November 17, 2018
Previously, the navy said the Seabed Constructor detected what it said was “a point of interest.” The object was approximately 60 meters long and its shape resembled a submarine hull.
Relatives of missing sailors were notified before the news was broken by Argentine media. It also comes just days after families of the submariners gathered at Mar del Plata naval base to commemorate and mourn their loved ones.
Now, with the submarine lying so deep on the seabed, it may be nearly impossible to know what happened to it. The navy will seek to determine if the San Juan can be raised from its current spot.
One year ago, the ARA San Juan, laid down in 1983 in German shipyards, went missing in the Atlantic with 44 crew on board. The sub was on a routine mission, and its sudden disappearance gave birth to numerous theories and rumors.
Local media reported that before communication with the submarine was lost, its captain reported a short circuit caused by the entry of sea water into the battery compartment.
A fire breaking out inside could have triggered a blast on board, the navy said at the time, adding that its listening posts detected “abnormal, singular, short, violent” sounds “consistent with an explosion.”
The search for the diesel-electric submarine started immediately, involving ships and aircraft manned by personnel from 13 countries. On November 30, after a 15-day operation, the navy decided to end the operation. The rescuers allowed for twice the possible time that the crew could have remained alive.
In the months that followed, reports on the fate of the submariners continued to swirl in local media, including that the San Juan was being shadowed by the British and Chilean military around the time of its disappearance.
Jesica Medina, a local woman, reported her brother telling her that the submarine was sailing close to the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) when a Royal Navy helicopter started chasing them down, along with a Chilean ship.
“On Monday, an English helicopter was looking for us, and yesterday the Chileans, there has been a lot going on,” second sub-officer Roberto Medina told his sister in the message, according to Argentina’s La Gaceta newspaper. There was no official confirmation.
But the newspaper report revived memories of the brief 1982 UK-Argentina war over the disputed islands, in which 655 Argentine and 255 British servicemen lost their lives. Argentina still claims the islands as its own. The issue has emerged in recent years again as Britain has begun to explore possible offshore oilfields in the area.
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