On Sunday, reports swirled that Argentina’s missing submarine, the ARA San Juan, had begun making attempts to reestablish communications with the nation’s navy, bolstering hopes that the 44-member crew may still be alive. Unfortunately, those hopes were tempered by the official statements of the Argentine Navy on Monday, who said that there is “no indication” that the signals had indeed come from the missing sub. Among the 44 crew members on board the ARA San Juan is Elaina Krawczyk, the nation’s first ever female submarine officer.
“We received seven satellite calls that likely came from the submarine San Juan. We are working hard to locate it. To the families of the 44 crew members: We hope you’ll have them home soon,” Argentina’s Defense Minister Oscar Aguad tweeted on Sunday.
Those hopes were dashed, however, by Adm. Gabriel Gonzales, who commands the Mar del Plata Naval Base the San Juan was supposed to reach on Sunday.
“We are analyzing more closely to reliably determine that they weren’t calls coming from the submarine,” he told reporters early Monday.
The search for the submarine that was last seen on Wednesday has been “intensified,” according to the Admiral, after adverse weather conditions and 26 foot swells hampered the effort throughout much of the weekend. An increased emphasis has been placed on the aerial search as a result, as ships have had difficulty navigating in the treacherous waters.
“Currently a powerful low-pressure system is causing wind gusts in excess of 70 kph (nearly 45 mph) and churning up the South Atlantic Ocean with swells equivalent to a two-story building. This weather will hamper the search efforts for at least the next 48 hours,” CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam said.
The first potentially mistaken low-frequency satellite signals were received on Saturday morning. A number of calls were received at two different military installations between 10:52 am and 3:42 pm, each lasting somewhere between four and 32 seconds. It was believed at the time that the submarine’s crew were attempting to establish communications with the Navy, indicating that, wherever they are, the crew of the San Juan may still be alive. The short duration of the signals was originally attributed to the poor weather conditions, but after working with a U.S. based company that specializes in satellite communications, it would seem the government is now convinced that the calls did not originate from the missing submarine.
The ARA San Juan was last seen in the San Jorge Gulf, as it traveled from Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego archipelago to their home port in Mar del Plata. Since then, the search effort for the 65’ submarine and its 44 crew members has seen international support from the U.S. Navy, NASA, and now, even the British Navy. The HMS Protector, a British “ice patrol” ship with a powerful sonar array, has been redirected to assist in the search. The inclusion of the British Navy is of note, as the two nations fought a bloody war in 1982.
The U.S. Navy’s Undersea Rescue and U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Commands are also participating in the effort, sharing this image on Twitter of some of the equipment being deployed to support the search and rescue operation.
— Air Mobility Command (@AirMobilityCmd) November 20, 2017
Image courtesy of the Associated Press