BUENOS AIRES – The lower house of Argentina’s Congress passed a bill on Wednesday for the creation of a commission to investigate the disappearance of a navy submarine in the Atlantic last month.
The bill, which will now be sent to the Senate, is a response to demands for an investigation from relatives of the 44 crewmen aboard the ARA San Juan.
The legislation, approved on a vote of 203-0, with one abstention, would establish a special investigating commission comprised of six representatives and six senators appointed by the heads of each house of Congress.
In addition, the commission will include three retired navy officers with ranks not lower than rear admiral, who will be appointed by the Defense and Foreign Relations committees in each house, and two military or civilian naval experts.
The bill, which requires final approval in the Senate, was drafted last week following a meeting between relatives of the ARA San Juan’s crew and lawmakers from the governing and opposition parties.
The commission’s goal, according to the bill, is “to analyze, evaluate and clarify the causes and circumstances of the vessel’s loss, efforts by the Argentine government to locate it, and the performance of the international assistance obtained to find and recover the submarine.”
The commission will be required to release a public report within 360 days after its formal establishment, but the deadline could be extended one year.
The ARA San Juan, a TR-1700-class submarine built in Germany, last made contact with the navy command on Nov. 15 while traveling from the southern port of Ushuaia to its base in Mar del Plata, near Buenos Aires.
Ships from several countries searched for the submarine, but no trace of the missing vessel has been found.