The Royal Navy has deployed its elite submarine rescue
team to join the search for a missing Argentine submarine,
after failed satellite calls thought to be from the vessel
raised hopes the crew were still alive.
HMS Protector also began scouring the South Atlantic as part of
the international hunt for the missing vessel, and HMS Clyde
was being diverted from South Georgia.
Argentine officials said naval bases had detected seven
incomplete satellite calls over the weekend attributed to the
sub and were now trying to use them to pinpoint its location.
The communication attempts “indicate that the crew is trying to
re-establish contact, so we are working to locate the source of
the emissions,” the Argentine Navy said on its Twitter account,
adding that the calls lasted between four and 36 seconds.
An international team of ships and aircraft were braving heavy
seas and high winds to search for the German-built ARA San Juan
which has been lost since last week.
ARA San Juan seen leaving the port of Buenos
Aires Credit: REUTERS
The Royal Navy said it was flying the Submarine Parachute
Assistance Group (SPAG) to the region to join the hunt. The
highly trained team of medics, engineers and escape specialists
is continuously on six
hours notice to go anywhere in the world.
Team members are parachute trained so that they can leap into
the water at the scene if needed, but in this case will embark
on HMS Protector. They carry inflatable boats and life rafts,
medical equipment and communications gear which allows them to
talk to trapped crews.
Arrived on task in the search area in the early hours of
this morning and have commenced sonar and visual search for
#ARASanJuan as part of the ongoing multinational
operation. Conditions remain challenging given current
— HMS_Protector (@protector_hms)
November 19, 2017
The San Juan and its 44 crew last made contact on Wednesday
when she was 267 miles off the coast in the Gulf of San Jorge.
The latest possible calls were a sign for “cautious
enthusiasm”, naval experts said, showing the crew may be alive,
afloat and at a shallow enough depth to attempt to communicate.
HMS Protector has begun sonar scans to hunt for the
submarine Credit: MOD
Claudio Rodriguez, whose brother Hernan is aboard the
submarine, told a local television channel: “They’ve got to be
afloat. Thank God. That gives us hope, because we knew that if
they were down below, they would be screwed.”
HMS Protector, the Royal Navy’s 5,000 ton ice patrol and
survey ship, was diverted to join the search from a routine
mission in the area and can bring its high definition sonar
to bear on the search.
Search and rescue mission for Argentinian submarine
The hunt also includes help from Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and
the United States. America on Sunday said it was sending a
second P-8 Poseidon submarine hunting navy patrol plane to
join the search. The US Navy has also dispatched two
submarine rescue chambers that can dock onto stricken boats
and ferry crew to the surface from hundreds of feet
ARA San Juan submarine Credit: Argentine
The San Juan is a TR-1700 class submarine which had been
returning from a routine mission to Ushuaia, near the
southernmost tip of South America, to its base at Mar del
Plata, about 250 miles south of Buenos Aires.
Among those on board is Argentina’s first female submarine
officer, 35-year-old weapons officer Eliana Krawczyk.
Rescuers are focusing on an ocean patch about 190 miles in
diameter located about 270 miles from the coast of the
southern province of Chubut.