This picture was tweeted by a Falkland Islands account, saying: ‘#ARASanJuan as she left port for the last time on Monday, Nov 13’
The Argentine submarine that disappeared with 44 crew members on board was being ‘chased by a British helicopter’ when it went missing, it was claimed today.
Jesica Medina, the sister of one of the missing sailors, Roberto Daniel Medina, revealed that she had received a ‘strange’ message from her brother days before the vessel’s last known communication.
In the Whatsapp message he told her that the ARA San Juan submarine had travelled close to the Falkland Islands, and claimed that a Royal Navy helicopter was trying to track them.
Second sub-officer Roberto told her they were now heading for home, writing: ‘On Monday an English helicopter was looking for us, and yesterday the Chileans, there has been a lot going on.’
Jesica told Argentina’s La Gaceta newspaper that ‘many’ other families of other missing crew members also received reports from their loved ones that they had been fleeing a British helicopter at the time of their disappearance.
She said: ‘It was a strange message in which he told us a British helicopter and a Chilean ship had been chasing them.
The Argentine submarine that disappeared with 44 crew members on board was being ‘chased by a British helicopter’ when it went missing, it has been claimed by a crew member’s sister
Jesica said the sub sailed close to the Falkands – which Argentina calls Malvinas – on November 3, alerting the British Navy which began searching for the vessel.
She added: ‘I don’t know how close they got to the Malvinas, and I don’t know what the political situation is like. That’s what he told us and that is what we were left with.’
Jesica, from Salta, northwest Argentina, said she didn’t show the message to the Argentinian authorities after the submarine went missing on November 15 because she ‘didn’t feel able’.
But she said she is making the message public now so that it can be included in a federal investigation into the disappearance headed by federal judge Marta Yanez.
She added: ‘I think we’re not the only family who has heard something like this, I think there are many others, Judge Yanez will have to investigate.
Relatives of the crew of the submarine ARA San Juan react after hearing that the Argentine Navy will discontinue rescue operations on November 30
Family members of the missing crew members collapsed in grief as Babi broke the news at the naval base in Mar del Plata, where the sub was travelling before it vanished
‘We all feel they are hiding things from us. The Navy has practically tortured us with all this situation they have made us live.’
The German-built ARA San Juan sub went missing on November 15 in the South Atlantic as it made its way back to the Navy base in Mar del Plata, with 43 men and one woman on board.
The vessel last made contact with commanders to report that water had entered the vessel through its snorkel and caused a battery fault.
Experts said the crew only had up to 10 days of oxygen if the sub remained intact under the sea.
An explosion was later detected around the time and place where the submarine last made contact.
The search for the sub is still ongoing but naval officials have admitted they hold out no hope for the survival of the crew, while judge Yanez, who is now probing the circumstances surrounding the vessel’s disappearance, admitted the submarine ‘may never be found or recovered.’
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘This story is completely untrue’.