Mys­tery of Ar­gen­tine sub lost in 2017 ends, deep in At­lantic sea

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - News - BY DANIEL POLITI

An Ar­gen­tine mil­i­tary sub­ma­rine has been found deep in the At­lantic Ocean al­most a year to the day af­ter it dis­ap­peared with 44 crew mem­bers aboard, the Ar­gen­tine navy said Satur­day, re­solv­ing a mys­tery over its fate that had trans­fixed the na­tion.

The sub­ma­rine, the San Juan, was lo­cated about 2,600 feet be­low the ocean’s sur­face by a pri­vate com­pany the govern­ment hired af­ter an in­ter­na­tional search failed to find it. It was dis­cov- ered about 250 nau­ti­cal miles from the port of Co­modoro Ri­va­davia in Chubut prov­ince.

“I have mixed feel­ings,” Os­car Aguad, the Ar­gen­tine de­fense min­is­ter, said at a news con­fer­ence Satur­day where of­fi­cials showed grainy pho­to­graphs of the wreck­age. “On one hand, there is re­lief over find­ing the sub­ma­rine. On the other, it is a tragedy.”

Naval of­fi­cials said at the same news con­fer­ence that it was too early to say whether the sub­ma­rine could be re­cov­ered, adding that Ar­gentina’s navy does not have the means to re­cover it.

The San Juan dis­ap­peared Nov. 15, 2017. It was found by Ocean In­fin­ity, a Hous­ton-based com­pany known for its work try­ing to lo­cate miss­ing Malaysia Air­lines Flight 370, which dis­ap­peared over the In­dian Ocean in 2014. The com­pany used un­manned, ro­botic de­vices to find it.

Ar­gentina’s govern­ment signed a con­tract with the com­pany in Au­gust that guar­an­teed it $ 7.5 mil­lion if it found the sub­ma­rine. The con­tract was signed af­ter many of the crew mem­bers’ rel­a­tives ac­cused the govern­ment of aban­don­ing the search. Dozens of them set up a makeshift camp out­side the pres­i­den­tial palace in Buenos Aires for 52 days, de­mand­ing that a pri­vate com­pany be hired to look for the sub­ma­rine.

Of­fi­cials said they will re­lease a re­port next week with more tech­ni­cal de­tails.

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