The Argentinian submarine that disappeared over a fortnight ago vanished after water got into its snorkel and made the battery short-circuit, the navy has today revealed.
The ARA San Juan and its 44 crew members were last traced on November 15, when they were believed to have a maximum seven-day oxygen supply.
A loud bang was heard by Navy staff monitoring the ship, which they claim could have been the vessel imploding.
Before it went missing, the submarine had been ordered back to its Mar del Plata base after it reported water had entered through the snorkel, causing a battery short circuit, navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told a news conference today.
The ARA San Juan (pictured in June 2014) and its 44 crew members were last traced on November 15, when they were believed to have a maximum seven-day oxygen supply
He said: ‘They had to isolate the battery and continue to sail underwater toward Mar del Plata, using another battery.’
After contact with the San Juan was lost, the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization, an international body that runs a global network of listening posts designed to check for secret atomic blasts, detected a noise the navy said could have been the submarine’s implosion.
The search for the 65m diesel-electric submarine includes ships and planes from 13 countries, including the UK, USA, Russia and Brazil.
It is being concentrated in an area 267 miles from Argentina’s southern coast.
There are mixed feelings regarding the fate of the crew on board.
Yesterday Mr Balbi told reporters he was not ruling out the situation of ‘extreme survival’ and believes they could still be alive.
Before it went missing, the submarine had been ordered back to its northern Mar del Plata base after it reported water had entered through the snorkel, causing a battery short circuit, navy spokesman Enrique Balbi (pictured) told a news conference today
Relatives of crew members have focused on the possibility the submarine may have been able to rise high enough in the ocean to refill its oxygen tanks at some point after its disappearance.
Some refuse to give up hope, while others are convinced their loved ones will not come back alive after the 4,000 personnel looking for the sub failed to find any sign of it.
While several people are determined there is no physical evidence of an implosion, the wife of crew member German Suarez Itali Leguizamon says she believes her husband is dead.
A US navy undersea rescue command is pictured off the Argentinian coast on Saturday preparing to take part in the search mission
She told reporters: ‘There is no way they are alive.
‘It is not that I want this. I love him. I adore him. He left his mother and sister behind, but there is no sense in being stubborn.
‘The other families are attacking me for what I am saying,’ she said, ‘but why have they not found it yet? Why don’t they tell us the truth?’
Bad weather conditions were also reported at the time of the vessel’s disappearance, with winds of between 31 and 56 mph.
A relative of one of the members of crew on board the San Juan is pictured distraught at the Mar del Plata base
A woman sits with an Argentinian flag draped over her shoulder in front of a sign that reads ‘Have strength Argentina that the 44 will come back in the company of the angels’
Tributes paid to those feared dead in the disappearance of the San Juan submarine