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Search for Missing Argentine Submarine Continues

Operators aboard the Australian navy vessel ADF Ocean Shield move U.S. Navy’s Bluefin-21 into position for deployment kn 2014. US Navy Photo

The Navy deployed unmanned underwater vehicles Tuesday in the search for the missing Argentine submarine as officials worry about the crew’s remaining oxygen.

Under the worst-case scenario, the ARA San Juan—missing since Wednesday – could be running out of oxygen if the sub hasn’t been able to surface, Argentine Navy officials said Tuesday, according to news reports.

The search is focused on an area off the coast of Argentina, which for the past few days has been hammered by rough weather, including reports of 20-foot seas. Tuesday’s forecast called for calmer conditions to assist the search.

“This phase of search and rescue is critical,” Argentine Armada spokesman Enrique Balbi said.
“This is why we are deploying all resources with high-tech sensors. We welcome the help we have received to find them.”

ARA SanJuan

The U.S. Navy is providing four unmanned vehicles to search underwater for clues to missing sub’s location, according to a Navy statement. The recently established Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron 1, based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, brought to Argentina one Bluefin-12D (Deep) unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) and three Iver 580 UUVs.

The Bluefin-12D can conduct search operations at 3 knots and down to a depth of nearly 5,000 feet, for 30 hours, according to a Navy statement. This is a smaller version of the UUV used by the Navy in 2014 to search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, thought to have crashed into the Indian Ocean.

The Iver 580s can operate at a depth of 325 feet, traveling at 2.5 knots, for up to 14 hours, according to a Navy statement. These UUVs cans search wide areas of the ocean using side scan sonar, which creates images of large areas of the seafloor, according to a Navy statement.

Also assisting the search is a Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft and a NASA P-3 research aircraft. If a rescue is to be attempted, the Navy’s specialized undersea rescue team, based in San Diego, is already staged in Argentina if asked to help.