BUENOS AIRES – The Argentine navy said Sunday that the search zone for the ARA San Juan, the submarine that went missing 25 days ago in the South Atlantic with 44 crewmembers on board, is “complex” because it resembles an “inverted mountain chain.”
“The search zone is ... located in what we call upper slopes, medium slopes,” similar to an “inverted mountain chain,” with “gutters” or ravines that can descend from “a dozen to 200 meters” (40 – 650 feet) deep, oceanographer Ariel Troisi said Sunday during an official information update event.
The irregularity of the undersea terrain degrades “the performance of the sensors” and even results in “rebounds, false echoes,” Troisi added.
“Some things can be seen but are masked from the other direction” and the sensor “can find an object compatible with what one is seeking and ... (it can) simply be a rocky outcrop,” he said.
Navy spokesman Capt. Enrique Balbi also emphasized the difficulty of searching the ocean bottom for the sub, noting a particular object that will be inspected on Sunday in an area “southwest of the center of the circular area with a 40-kilometer (25-mile) radius” that has been established as the prime search zone.
He also said that the ocean bottom in that area could be 200 meters deeper than the 700 meters originally estimated.
Currently, six Argentine and foreign vessels are searching for the ARA San Juan, with which contact was lost on Nov. 15 as it was sailing underwater from Ushuaia to Mar del Plata.