Argentina's Navy Launches Search For Missing Submarine With 44 Crew Aboard

Maria Krawczyk a submarine officer on board the Argentine navy submarine ARA San Juan

Maria Krawczyk a submarine officer on board the Argentine navy submarine ARA San Juan

Relatives of the crew members gathered at the Mar del Plata Naval Base in the hopes of hearing news about their loved ones.

One P-8A Navy aircraft is already in Argentina, where it joined a NASA P-3 research aircraft that supports search efforts on the submarine's last known location. Such mechanical problems are not uncommon and numerous backup systems are in place should such an incident occur, Galeazzi said.

A multinational armada of aircraft and vessels battled high winds and raging seas Sunday as they intensified their search for a missing Argentine submarine, after apparent attempted distress calls raised hopes the 44 crew members may still be alive.

The craft had previously left the city of Ushuaia to head toward a naval base at Mar del Plata.

Argentine authorities clarified that it has not confirmed the calls came from the submarine, the ARA San Juan, though that is the working hypothesis.

Over the weekend, IARU Region 2 News Editor Joaquín Solana, XE1R, issued a list of marine frequencies, suggesting that radio amateurs and SWLs listen for any signals that could be related to the missing San Juan.

"The vessel surfaced and it reported a breakdown", Galeazzi said.

More than a dozen boats and aircraft from Argentina, the United States, Britain, Chile and Brazil had joined the effort. However, it would not be unusual for storms to cause delays, Balbi said.

The Argentine military submarine ARA San Juan and crew leaving the port of Buenos Aires in 2014
REUTERS The Argentine military submarine ARA San Juan and crew leaving the port of Buenos Aires in 2014

"Those probes allow the boats to sweep the ocean floor during their journey and try to make a record of the floor in three dimensions", Balbi said. The submarine has 44 crew members on board.

After that, he said, it would have to surface or get near the surface to replenish air supply.

The crew were thought to have several days of food supply, but - unlike nuclear-powered United Kingdom and USA submarines - the 66m (216ft) long ARA San Juan is diesel electric, meaning that it has a finite supply of fuel, food and oxygen.

The government on Sunday said it could not confirm that the attempts had come from the ARA San Juan.

At the Vatican, Argentine Pope Francis said that he is sending "fervent prayers" for the crew.

Contact wasn't made and nothing was transmitted, but the signals, if from the sub, are the first signs of life from the ARA San Juan.

Sixty-five meters long and seven meters wide, it was built by Germany's Thyssen Nordseewerke and launched in 1983.

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