Time running out for missing submarine

24 November, 2017, 01:19 | Author: Katrina Soto
  • A man walks past a banner in the colours of the Argentine national flag in Mar del Plata

That time will have run out on November 22, after the sub vanished on Wednesday last week.

An global search mission for a missing Argentine submarine entered a critical phase Tuesday after almost a week without signs of life - as the vessel risked running out of oxygen after being submerged for so long.

The search is the largest manoeuvre in the southern Atlantic since the Falklands War of 1982, covering 482,000 square kilometres.

"We all had hope", Argentine Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said. "Assuming the most critical phase, which would be the submarine is submerged and can not surface, we are in the 6th day of oxygen", Enrique Balbi told a news conference in Buenos Aires earlier Tuesday.

Argentine navy protocol stipulates that submarines make contact twice a day with the base during times of peace. Given that five days have passed since it went missing, there are now only two days left to locate it.

The vessel could also "snorkel" - raise a tube to the surface - to "charge batteries and draw fresh air for the crew".

The ARA San Juan was inaugurated in 1983, the newest of three submarines in the Navy's fleet.

In its last contact with its naval base last Wednesday, the submarine had given word of a battery glitch, Captain Gabriel Galeazzi, another navy spokesman, said.

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If the submarine is bobbing adrift on the surface and the hatch is open, it will have enough available air supply and food for around 30 days, he said. But later analysis determined the noises were not from the missing vessel, but instead might have been from the ocean or marine life, Balbi said.

"Little by little we enter an increasingly critical phase".

The US Navy was preparing on Tuesday to deploy rescue equipment, including a remote-operated vehicle.

Meanwhile, family members have gathered at the Mar del Plata naval base have clung to hope, with some telling Clarin that they believe their loved ones will come home just as the Chilean miners who survived 68 days trapped were lated reunited with their families. More than 100 personnel were participating in the rescue operation, including U.S. and Argentinian navy operatives.

The sonar systems of two ships detected noises, which sounded like tools being banged against the hull of a vessel, according to a senior United States navy official. If the vessel is resting on Argentina's continental shelf, it is likely in waters shallower than this, but if it's farther out into the Atlantic Ocean, it could be below its "crush depth" in which the hull buckles under pressure.

Officials said Tuesday that search teams overnight spotted an inflated dinghy and white emergency flares.

Has the ARA San Juan been found and when will crew run out of oxygen?

No other missing vessels have been reported in the area, Balbi said.


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