BUENOS AIRES – Argentina is relying on the robotic undersea search vehicles provided by Russia and the US, which will arrive in the coming days in the South Atlantic, to find the ARA San Juan, the Argentine navy submarine that disappeared with 44 crewmembers on board more than two weeks ago, the navy said on Monday.
Specifically, it is anticipated that on Tuesday the Russian scientific exploration vessel Yantar will arrive in the area with high-tech equipment for inspecting the underwater environment and it can begin searches of the ocean bottom down to a depth of 6,000 meters (about 3.7 miles).
Argentine navy Capt. Enrique Balbi said in his daily briefing on the submarine search that on Friday a vessel will set sail from Argentina carrying a US robot undersea vehicle, which will also be able to inspect the ocean floor down to 6,000 meters.
Both robot vehicles have “dynamic” positioning systems that will aid them in their work, but the weather conditions in the search area are not predicted to be very good in the coming days.
Over the past week, several search vessels have used undersea sensors and identified six “contacts” or indications of metallic objects lying on the ocean floor in the vicinity of the sub’s last reported position, but three of them have already been determined to be older shipwrecks.
At present, Balbi said, six vessels – five of them Argentine navy ships and one Chilean boat – are in the area sweeping the ocean flood trying to detect possible wreck sites for the sub.
On the same day that the sub disappeared, Nov. 15, an underwater explosion was registered in the area. However, authorities say that even if crewmembers survived a blast and found themselves trapped in a sunken vessel, they would have exhausted the available oxygen by now and thus no survivors are expected.
“Today, we’re concerned with locating the submarine ... There is no time limit (on the search), the navy’s commitment is to continue locating the submarine until all available means are exhausted, taking advantage of international help,” Balbi said.