This undated photo provided by the Argentina Navy shows an ARA San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric vessel, near Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina’s Navy said Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, it has lost contact with its ARA San Juan submarine off the country’s southern coast. (Argentina Navy via AP )
Last Wednesday, the Argentine submarine ARA San Juan was declared lost. A multinational effort was launched to find the missing submarine with 44 sailors aboard. In addition to the United States and neighboring nations, the international effort involved an old enemy (a British military aircraft landed in Argentina for the first time since the Falklands War) and a wildly inept, corrupt, and incompetent Russian effort to appear to be helpful and relevant.
Today was close to the latest the submarine could be discovered with any hope of the crew being alive and now it seems as though the submarine may have been lost last Wednesday.
The Argentine Navy said on Thursday that a catastrophic explosion was recorded in the area where a submarine went missing on Nov. 15, an ominous disclosure that immediately caused relatives of the 44 crew members to burst into tears.
The nature of the explosion, which was described as an “anomalous, short, violent” event, was not immediately clear, but the disclosure dampened the hopes of a multinational team of rescuers who have been searching for the vessel, and immediately revived concerns about the worst outcome.
The United States Navy, which is helping with the search, shared the information about the catastrophic explosion with the Argentines on Wednesday, according to Captain Balbi.
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, which runs monitoring stations equipped with underwater microphones, supplied corroborating information about the explosion, via the Argentine ambassador in Austria, on Thursday morning.
The two reports about an explosion — from the United States Navy and from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization — each provided a radius of about 77 miles, and that area is now being searched.
Cmdr. Erik Reynolds, a spokesman for the United States Navy, said that American analysts had ruled out the possibility that the “hydro-acoustic anomaly,” as he called the explosion, could have been caused by volcanic or seismic activity.
Our hydroacoustic network detected an unusual signal near the last known position of #missing San Juan #submarine. The signal from an underwater impulsive event was detected 15 Nov 13:51 GMT, Lat -46.12 deg; Long: -59.69 deg. Details & data shared with Argentinian authorities. pic.twitter.com/SU5XHiICb4
— Lassina Zerbo (@SinaZerbo) November 23, 2017
Detecting submarine loss by sub-surface microphone arrays is not new. When the USS Scorpion went missing in 1968, it’s implosion was heard by SOSUS microphones in the Greenland-Iceland-UK (GIUK) Gap even though the sub sank southwest of the Azores.
The Argentine press is more adamant about what the families were told than the US and European press. They are reporting that the families were told their loved ones were dead (this via Google Translate).
The worst of the scenarios was confirmed early in the morning by the Argentine Navy, when it has gathered the relatives of the crew to tell them the sad news of the death of the 44 crew of the submarine ARA San Juan disappeared last week.
The Argentine Navy reported yesterday that it was analyzing a ‘hydroacoustic anomaly’ that was detected a week ago in the Atlantic area where the last known position of the submarine ARA San Juan had been fixed, a noise that was recorded almost three hours after the Last communication with the ship.
The search will continue until the wreckage is found but there seems to be zero hope of a happy ending to this story.