Argentina ends search for missing sub crew
BUENOS AIRES - Agence France-Presse
The navy has shifted its mission from rescue to recovery, spokesman Enrique Balbi told reporters.
He said while it was not possible to definitively confirm the crew had perished, “no evidence of a shipwreck was found in the areas explored” and the international rescue effort had continued for “twice the time” it was estimated they could have survived.
“Despite the vast efforts made, we have been unable to locate the submarine,” he said, though adding that international efforts to find the vessel would continue.
A senior Argentine navy officer was more blunt, saying that there was now no expectation of survivors.
“We are in the middle of a tragedy. The atmosphere in the navy is absolute consternation, anguish and pain. We lost 44 comrades,” said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In addition to the loss of life, “half of Argentina’s submarine capacity was lost,” the officer said.
The country now has one active sub, while a second is undergoing repairs.
The U.S. navy said on Nov. 30 it had deployed an unmanned recovery vehicle to join the hunt. The U.S. had already provided other assistance, as did about a dozen other countries.
The navy’s final contact with the ARA San Juan, a 34-year-old German-built diesel-electric sub, came on Nov. 15, when it was sailing in the South Atlantic 450 kilometers (280 miles) from the coast.
In its final communication, the submarine reported it had overcome a mechanical breakdown that resulted from a short circuit due to the entry of water via the vessel’s snorkel.