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30 Nov, 2017 21:45

No chance of finding missing Argentine sub crew alive – Navy

No chance of finding missing Argentine sub crew alive – Navy

The Argentine Navy says the rescue operation for the crew of the missing submarine ARA San Juan is over, as no chance remains of finding the sailors alive. The search operation for the wreck will continue.

After a 15-day search and rescue operation, no trace has been found of the missing submarine or its crew of 44, navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said at a media briefing. The rescuers have allowed for twice the possible time that the crew could have remained alive.

"More than double the number of days have passed where it would have been possible to rescue the crew," Balbi said.

On the morning of November 15, contact was lost with the submarine of the Argentine Navy ARA 'San Juan' during its journey from Ushuaia to Mar del Plata, a journey along almost the entire Argentine coast. The last signs of the vessel were recorded almost halfway through the journey, in the San Jorge Gulf bay.

The navy earlier said the vessel’s captain had reported a short circuit after water had entered the submarine’s snorkel. It seems that the problem was contained and the ‘San Juan’ continued on its way. However, it is possible that the battery malfunction created a “concentration of hydrogen” that later caused an explosion, detected near the submarine’s last known location.

Several countries, including Russia, the US, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Peru, and the UK, have assisted in the search and rescue operation. The US Navy deployed two sonar-capable underwater vehicles, while Russia sent an oceanographic research ship equipped with two self-propelled deep submergence vehicles, capable of exploring the ocean at depths of 6,000 meters (3.75 miles).

Among the 44 crew members under the command of captain Pedro Martín Fernandez on board the ‘San Juan’ was Argentina's first female officer to serve on a submarine, Eliana María Krawczyk.

The ‘San Juan’ was a diesel-electric submarine, built in Germany in the early 1980s and last refitted in 2014. It is one of only three vessels in the Argentine Submarine Force. Argentine President Mauricio Macri has pledged to thoroughly investigate the incident.