Search for missing Argentine sub San Juan stepped up after signals
British and US forces have stepped up their rescue effort to help Argentina locate a military submarine missing in the southern Atlantic for five days.
Hopes of finding the 44 crew of the San Juan were fading last night after Argentina’s defence ministry said seven signals sent but not properly received may have been satellite phone calls from the sub. This was discounted last night, however, with Admiral Gabriel González, of the Mar del Plata naval base, saying the signals were being more closely analysed to determine whether they had come from the vessel.
“We analysed these signals, which as we know were intermittent and weak,” said Gabriel Galeazzi, a naval commander. “They could not help determine a point on the map.”
The Royal Navy and US navy have joined the effort to find the submarine, last heard of 267 miles from southern Patagonia. On Saturday the US navy sent a third plane with a crew of 21 from Florida to join two aircraft already taking part in the searc
Britain said that it had deployed HMS Protector to join the hunt. A Hercules based in the Falkland Islands, over which Britain and Argentina fought in 1982, is on standby. Brazil, Chile, Peru, Uruguay and France are also offering help.
The signals were detected at 10.52am and 3.42pm local time on Saturday at various naval bases but did not connect properly.
Enrique Balbi, a spokesman for the Argentine navy, said: “We are not discounting any hypothesis.” Possibilities could include a problem with communications or with the power system. Mr Balbi denied claims of an on-board fire and insisted that the submarine could not yet be described as lost.
The search and rescue operation has so far been hindered by extreme winds and waves up to 8m high, conditions that are expected to continue today. About 200 relatives gathered at the navy compound in Mar del Plata to await news of their loved ones.
The 65m diesel-electric boat was returning from Ushuaia, Argentina’s southernmost port, when contact was lost in stormy weather north of the Falkands. According to one report, it had been taking part in military exercises. It entered service in 1983, the newest of three submarines in the fleet.
President Macri said in a tweet that Argentina would use “all resources national and international that are necessary to find the submarine”.