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US ends hunt for missing Argentine submarine

The United States is ending its search next week for the Argentina submarine that disappeared six weeks ago, the Navy has said.

ARA San Juan went missing on November 15 with 44 crew members on board in the South Atlantic, with an explosion being detected near the time and location from which it vanished.

The submarine’s disappearance triggered an international search for the ship and crew members, who have been presumed dead for weeks.

The Argentine Navy announced on Wednesday that with help from Russia, it is continuing its search for the ship.

The United States has decided, however, to end its search for the ship in January and instead will help from North America with data and planning analysis. 

ARA San Juan went missing on November 15 with 44 crew members on board in the South Atlantic, with an explosion being detected near the time and location from which it vanished

The submarine's disappearance triggered an international search for the ship and crew members, who have been presumed dead for weeks. Pictured above is the last known image of the submarine

The submarine’s disappearance triggered an international search for the ship and crew members, who have been presumed dead for weeks. Pictured above is the last known image of the submarine

The US Navy will end its search for the submarine on January 2. Pictured above, Argentine rescue commanders discuss current operations with Navy Cmdr Michael Eberlein, commanding officer of Undersea Rescue Command (URC) during the search and rescue mission last month

The US Navy will end its search for the submarine on January 2. Pictured above, Argentine rescue commanders discuss current operations with Navy Cmdr Michael Eberlein, commanding officer of Undersea Rescue Command (URC) during the search and rescue mission last month

US Navy Cmdr Erik Reynolds told the Washington Post that a small team will continue searching for the submarine until January 2. 

He said that after that, all technical assistance will be provided from back in the United States.

Southern Commadn said in a statement: ‘The US support team completed all searches in areas assigned by the Argentine Navy, sweeping each area twice with advanced sensors. 

‘Despite their best efforts on behalf of the Argentine people and the families of the missing sailors, this international effort has yet to locate the ARA San Juan.’ 

More than 200 US personnel, three aircraft and a Navy research ship participated in the search for the submarine.

The rescue and recovery area covered more than 655 square nautical miles, according to a statement from US Southern Command.

The total search involving troops from more than a dozen countries covered 300,000 square miles.  

 Argentina, which received help from 13 countries in its search for the San Juan submarine, has abandoned hope of finding survivors and is concentrating only on finding the vessel.

In the last message from the submarine, it reported that seawater had entered the ventilation system, causing a battery on the diesel-electric vessel to short-circuit and start a fire

In the last message from the submarine, it reported that seawater had entered the ventilation system, causing a battery on the diesel-electric vessel to short-circuit and start a fire

The tragedy led to the firing of Admiral Marcelo Srur, head of Argentina's navy, earlier this month. Pictured above, the missing ARA San Juan in action before its disappearance 

The tragedy led to the firing of Admiral Marcelo Srur, head of Argentina’s navy, earlier this month. Pictured above, the missing ARA San Juan in action before its disappearance 

The South American country and Russia are still investigating a new sonar contact made with the ship within the last month. 

In the last message from the submarine, it reported that seawater had entered the ventilation system, causing a battery on the diesel-electric vessel to short-circuit and start a fire. 

The navy said that an unusual noise heard in the ocean near the last known position of the San Juan, three hours after its final contact, was ‘consistent with an explosion’.

Other reported contacts detected weeks ago amounted to nothing – with some arising from a fishing boat which sank years previously.

The tragedy led to the firing of Admiral Marcelo Srur, head of Argentina’s navy, earlier this month.

Experts said the crew only had up to ten days of oxygen if the sub remained intact under the sea.

This prompted the Argentine navy to end rescue efforts for the 44 missing crew of ARA San Juan more than two weeks after it vanished.

Some family members of the lost crew have denounced the navy’s response to the sub’s disappearance, as well as the age and condition of the vessel.

President Mauricio Macri has promised a full investigation.

A relative of one of the crew members of Argentine missing submarine ARA San Juan reacts at the Mar del Plata Navy Base Missing Argentine submarine, Mar del Plata, Argentina, last month

A relative of one of the crew members of Argentine missing submarine ARA San Juan reacts at the Mar del Plata Navy Base Missing Argentine submarine, Mar del Plata, Argentina, last month

Argentina's Navy confirmed on Thursday that there was a 'singular, abnormal, short, violent and non-nuclear event' consistent with an explosion in the area where the submarine was lost

Argentina’s Navy confirmed on Thursday that there was a ‘singular, abnormal, short, violent and non-nuclear event’ consistent with an explosion in the area where the submarine was lost

The crew’s families demanded that Argentina’s navy reverses the decision to stop looking for survivors.

At the sub’s home naval base in Mar del Plata shortly after the navy announced they wouldn’t be looking for survivors any longer, relatives reacted with heartbreak. 

Some hugged and fell on their knees sobbing near a fence crowded with blue-and-white Argentine flags, rosary beads and messages of support.

Others took to social media to pay homage to their loved ones.

‘I stay with this image,’ Jesica Gopar, said in a tweet that included a photo of her husband, submarine officer Fernando Santilli, smiling and holding their young son in his arms.

‘He’s the most beautiful being that God could have put on my path 13 years ago,’ she wrote. ‘He’s a hero who must be recognized along with his 43 other crew members. I hope you didn’t suffer my love.’

Former American Navy acoustic analyst Bruce Rule concluded that the 44 crew members would have died ‘instantly’ and ‘without suffering’.

The expert was quoted by leading Argentinian daily La Nacion, who reported: ‘The entire pressure-hull was completely destroyed in about 40 milliseconds or 1/25th of a second.’

Mr Rule, described as the former lead acoustic analyst at the US Office of Naval Intelligence which is the US’s premier maritime intelligence service, claimed that the submarine wreckage had sunk vertically at a speed of 10 to 13 knots.

The missing crew of ARA San Juan 

Lieutenant Eliana Maria Krawczyk, 35, is third-in-command of the sub. As chief weapons officer, she is responsible for the ship’s arsenal of 22 torpedoes. She grew up in Misiones province, near the borders with Paraguay and Brazil, around 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from the sea. She dreamed of becoming an engineer but enrolled at naval school after a double family tragedy – her brother’s death in a car accident and her mother dying from a heart attack. She enrolled in the naval school instead, having her first encounter with the sea at 21. She specialized in under-sea warfare, becoming Latin America’s first submarine officer. 

Eliana Maria Krawczyk (pictured) dreamed of becoming an engineer but enrolled at naval school after a double family tragedy – her brother’s death in a car accident and her mother dying from a heart attack

Captain Pedro Martin Fernandez has been commander of the San Juan since 2015. Married with three adolescent children he flirted with the idea of becoming a teacher before joining the navy. In two decades of missions and training programs he has traveled the world. The 45-year-old lived for a decade in Mar del Plata, home port of the navy’s two operational submarines, the San Juan and the Salta. 

Luis Niz (left) only joined the crew of the San Juan recently, after getting a promotion in 2016

Photographs of the crew of Argentina’s lost submarine have emerged for the first time, including that of Captain Pedro Martin Fernandez (pictured right)

Maria Leguizamon, whose husband German Suarez (pictured) is among the missing, told how 40 relatives gathered at the naval base were told about the explosion minutes before the press conference in Buenos Aires

Luis Niz, 25, was due to marry soldier Alejandra Morales on December 7. He only joined the crew of the San Juan after getting a promotion in 2016.

Lieutenant Renzo Martin Silva, 32, has been in the navy since the age of 18. The submarine enthusiast grew up in the foothills of the Andes in the Argentine province of San Juan, for which the submarine was named.

He planned to marry his girlfriend, a soldier, Lieutenant Maria Eugenia Ulivarri Rodi, next year. 

Renzo Martin Silva grew up in the foothills of the Andes in the Argentine province of San Juan, for which the submarine was named

Mario Armando Toconas Oriundo. Father of an eight-year-old boy, his partner is four months pregnant with their second child

Mario Armando Toconas Oriundo, 36, has spent 13 years in the navy. From Patagonia, he went to live in Mar del Plata, a seaside resort as well as the sub’s home port. Father of an eight-year-old boy, his partner is four months pregnant with their second child.

Fernando Santilli, 35, became a submariner seven years ago. He left the wine-growing province of Mendoza to become an engineer. His wife, Jessica Gopar, posted a moving letter on Facebook on Tuesday, in which she said every day of waiting ‘is a little harder. There are moments of hope, others of great distress. You cannot imagine how many people are praying for you.’

She dedicated a few lines of her note to the commander, asking him to ‘do the impossible and get back to the surface. You have 44 lives in your hands. I’m waiting for my love. See you soon.’

Fernando Santilli (right) left the wine-growing province of Mendoza to become an engineer

Lieutenant Renzo Martin Silva, 32, planned to marry his girlfriend, a soldier, Lieutenant Maria Eugenia Ulivarri Rodi, next year

 



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