Missing Argentine Submarine: Signals Bring Hope 44 Sailors Still Alive Beneath Ocean As U.S. Sends Rescue Team

The Argentina submarine and its 44 crew members have been missing since Wednesday when communications with the sub broke down. Now seven pings believed to be coming from the ARA San Juan via satellite are giving the country of Argentina hope that the 44 crew members may still be alive while stranded at the bottom of the ocean.

Saturday night, Argentine Defense Minister Oscar Aguad revealed the news in a tweet that they received “7 signals from satellite calls that would have been from the San Juan submarine,” according to ABC News. Along with confirming these signals, he passed along their hope that the 44 missing crew members may be able to be saved.

According to CNN News, “the calls came to different bases between 10:52 a.m. and 3:42 p.m. Saturday, and lasted between four and 36 seconds.” From what is described by the various news sites, these were attempted calls from the submarine that didn’t connect, yet the pings from these calls were picked up by the satellite.

According to The Guardian, unconfirmed reports put the stranded submarine at 70 meters down under the Atlantic Ocean, which is about 230 feet. The same unconfirmed report has the submarine located “in waters 300 km (which is about 186 miles) east of the Patagonian coastal city of Puerto Madryn by the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liason Office.”

These satellite calls were made on Saturday, according to Argentine officials, who are working with a company from the U.S. to analyze the location from which the submarine crew made those calls. The pings received from those satellite calls have given renewed hope to the families of the missing crew members. The Argentine officials report they have “transmitted our hopes to the families of the 44 crew members: that they may soon have them in their homes.”

These pings, which are calls that weren’t connected but pinged off the satellite, were confirmed by the Argentine Armada, which is Argentina’s Navy. The pings indicate that the crew was trying to reestablish contact, the Argentina Armada conveyed in a tweet. That Twitter message from the Armanda also conveys that are they at work trying to establish the submarine’s location.

Modern technology has paved the way for underwater rescues that are much different than what rescuing a stranded submarine looked like decades ago. An American company equipped with all the technology to locate and rescue the crew members has deployed two “independent rescue assets” from San Diego. These vessels are en route to the area in the Southern Atlantic, where the Argentine Navy lost communication with the ASA San Juan submarine.

The vessels are expected to arrive on Sunday, officials said. Once the submarine is located, the underwater rescue will get underway. First the “highly trained American sailors” will orchestrate the technology for this rescue. According to ABC News, once the ships are on the location of the rescue they “will utilize an underwater system called Remotely Operated Vehicle, or ROV. It can climb down to depths of 850 feet and pull to safety up to six persons at a time, the Pentagon officials said.”

To rescue up to 16 crew members at a time, the American sailors will rely on the Pressurized Rescue Module (PRM). This module seals over the hatch of the submarine, allowing the American sailors to “safely transfer” the stranded submarine crew member to the recuse chamber. This American rescue company will join the U.S. Navy, which is already assisting in the rescue effort with the Navy’s P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft and a NASA P-3 research aircraft combing through the search area looking for the missing submarine.

When the submarine lost touch with its base, it was a fire that reportedly knocked out the communications on board the sub. There was no SOS warning issued by the sub when that occurred or at any time during its journey. The ARA San Juan is one of three submarines in Argentina’s fleet. The vessel was commissioned in 1985 and it was most recently refit in 2014.

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