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Argentine air and sea assets are conducting search and rescue operations after it lost contact with one of its submarines in the San Jorge Gulf some 432km (268 miles) off the nation’s east coast. 

The search and rescue operation was formally declared on Friday evening (local time) after no visual or radar contact was made with the submarine. It is understood that the vessel has been out of contact since Wednesday, with the Navy suspecting a communications failure may have occurred while the submarine was off the coast of Chubut Province.

The ARA San Juan is a German-built TR-1700 diesel-electric submarine which entered service in 1985. It has a submerged displacement of 2264 tonnes, is 66m long and has a regular complement of 26. Reports indicate that the vessel was transiting between the navy’s southern base at Ushuaia in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago to the Mar del Plata Naval Base, home of the submarine fleet, at the time of its disappearance.

The state broadcaster Telam is reporting that there was 44 people on board with the New York Times reporting that one is Eliana Maria Kraqczyk, the navy’s first female submarine warfare officer. Her father spoke to the paper saying they were praying for all to return safely. Although the navy is trying to downplay concerns, many worried families have taken up vigil outside of the naval station at Mar del Plata.

Admiral Gonzalez, commander of the Mar del Plata base, reassured the families and the media that the vessel had more than sufficient supplies of food an oxygen. “We have a loss of communications; we are not talking of an emergency,” he told the press, though the longer the submarine is missing the more concerns rise.

Local media sources have already reported claims that the vessel was either struck by fire, or that it has been located submerged at a depth of 70m approximately 300km east of the city of Puerto Madryn. Neither claim has been confirmed by any official sources.

So far Argentina has committed significant resources to the search include S-2E Tracker patrol aircraft, a C-130 transport aircraft, the destroyer ARA Sarandi and corvettes ARA Rosales and ARA Drummond as well as their embarked helicopters.

Britain has offered to support search operations with a C-130 Hercules aircraft currently on station at RAF Mount Pleasant and, following an official request from Argentina, is deploying HMS Protector to the search area. NASA is also providing support with a P-3 Orion aircraft that had been in Argentina conducting scientific missions. It is understood that Chile, Brazil and other regional nations have also offered resources and logistical support to the mission.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Glad to see where helping them and all the best. But how can a C130 help search for a sub, and wouldn’t a frigate be a more appropriate type of ship for us to send?

  2. I agree that we should help look but do wonder if the offer would be returned if one of our subs went missing in the south atlantic.

    • Hear what you say Lewis but when it comes to disaster at sea generally old emnities are forgotten. When the Bismarck was sinking and her crew were abandoning ship the Royal Navy rescued as many of her sailors as she could before having to disengage on reports that a German sub was nearby

    • Yes of course we would help UK

      Issue is that as you can see our army is not very well equiped not even to help OURSELVES …

  3. It will be dreadful for the families of the crew.
    It brings to mind the loss of the Russian sub the Kursk a few years back,let’s hope the outcome is different.

  4. We should help in the search for the missing submarine regardless of the difficulties with the UK Argentine relationship.

    On a more political note, I find it amazing our friends the Germans sold a submarine to the Argentine in 1985.

    • Surely you know we sold lots of ships, aircraft & other kit to the Argies before 1982?
      So did the US, French, Belgium & others. The UK history past & present is hardly beyond reproach.
      We need to maintain our opposition to Argentine claims on the Falklands, but always be willing to offer humanitarian help. I pray the sub & crew are found safely.

  5. Sad news, indicative of the terrible decline in Argentinian military.
    Hopefully the sub will be found at the bottom of the ocean and some crew members can be rescued.
    Looking at charts she is in relatively deep water 400-500m if anywhere near her last known position.
    will need a deep sea survey ship like Echo or Enterprise to find her…or an astute!

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