Amidst concerns it will soon run out of oxygen, the search for Argentina’s missing submarine has taken a unwelcome twist. Last heard from on Nov. 15th, officials are now certain a sound detected to have occurred in the sub’s area on that day is consistent with the sound of an explosion.
Argentinian Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said today that U.S. technology has discovered a “hydro-acoustic anomaly” took place in the South Atlantic just hours after the ARA San Juan was last heard from. Balbi and U.S. officials say the sound was not a naturally occurring one and they believe it was the sound of an explosion.
Balbi said the ship reported a “battery failure” before communication ended.
The sound detected by the U.S. occurred about 30 miles north of where the sub, with 44 crew members aboard, was known to be when it reported the battery failure and communication ended. Balbi told media they did not “want to speculate” what the sound could mean. The search for the German-built submarine continues.
The United States has sent ships and equipment to aide in the search, including sonar-equipped underwater vehicles, a submarine rescue chamber, a naval research ship and two P-8 Poseidons. Britain has sent a plane that carries an emergency life-support pod and Russia, too, is also helping.
In total, some dozen nations are contributing to the search.
Officials are concerned that if the ARA San Juan is fully submerged and unable to surface, its oxygen supply would be running low. It is believed that oxygen in the submarine will last only from 7 to 10 days and the sub has been missing for 8 days.
Meanwhile, family members of the missing submariners are gathering at the ship’s base in Mar del Plata hoping for news of their loved ones. Some are saying that officials in their country began the search for the sub later than they should have.
Elena Alfaro, the sister of missing submariner Christian Ibanez, said the search should have begun earlier than it did. “I feel like authorities let too much time pass by and decisions were taken late,” she told the Associated Press. “And yet, I still carry some hope.”
Balbi said his country will not stop searching until they discover the fate of the ship.