Argentine Navy ends rescue operation for missing submarine - spokesman

Randolph Lopez
December 1, 2017

The search for 44 sailors on board a lost Argentine submarine has ended, leaving nearly no hope for their survival.

The navy has shifted its mission from rescue to recovery, spokesman Enrique Balbi told reporters.

The search for the vessel itself will continue.

Investigators have searched for the ARA San Juan for 15 days since it first went missing on November 15.

Hopes of finding survivors had already dimmed with experts saying the crew had only enough oxygen to last seven to 10 days if the vessel remained intact underwater.

He said while it was not possible to definitively confirm the crew had perished, "no evidence of a shipwreck was found in the areas explored" and the worldwide rescue effort had continued for "twice the time" it was estimated they could have survived.

The search for a missing Argentine submarine will continue but the rescue part of the plan has ended, a spokesman for the navy said on Thursday.

ARA San Juan: Argentina calls off rescue mission for missing submarine crew but continues search for vessel

"They just threw away the last hope we had", said Luis Tagliapietra, the 46-year-old father of one of the missing submariners.

The crew had been ordered to return to a naval base in Mar del Plata after reporting water had entered the vessel through its snorkel.

Relatives of the missing had mixed feelings about Thursday's announcement. The captain later communicated by satellite phone that the problem had been contained, the navy says.

On Tuesday, the navy said a sound consistent with an explosion was detected in the ocean near the sub's last known location on the day it disappeared.

The final message from the submarine reported a leak of seawater and the beginnings of a battery fire, but navy Adm. Gabriel Gonzalez said he didn't consider the incident an emergency.

The search for the San Juan has employed some of the latest technology in one of the largest efforts of its kind.

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