ARA San Juan: Missing Argentine submarine found a year after disappearing in Atlantic

BUENOS AIRES – The wreckage of a submarine which went missing with 44 sailors on board a year ago has been located some 800 meters (2,620ft) near the Valdes Peninsula in the southern Atlantic, the Navy said Saturday.

The navy lost contact with ARA San Juan submarine on Nov. 15 last year, about 430 kilometers from the Argentine coast. It was on its way back to the naval base at Mar del Plata on the country’s east coast with 44 crew members on board.

A massive international search was launched after the submarine went missing, but the initial rescue mission was called off after two weeks, with investigators unable to establish exactly where the submarine was lost.

But a U.S. company Ocean Infinity, contracted by the Argentine authorities to search for the missing submarine, has now been able to locate and positively identify the lost vessel off the Valdes Peninsula in Argentine Patagonia.

On Thursday, the U.S. company detected an unknown object, named Object 24, on the ocean floor. Closer inspection using a remote-controlled submersible revealed it to be the missing vessel.

“Through the observation made with an ROV at 800 meters deep, positive identification has been given to #AraSanJuan,” the Navy tweeted.

The navy had earlier shared a picture from the seabed, suggesting a 60m-long object might be the missing submarine.

The San Juan was returning from a mission to Ushuaia—a city at the southernmost tip of South America—when it reported an “electrical breakdown.” Naval commander Gabriel Galeazzi said the ship surfaced and its crew explained they had a “short circuit” in the vessel’s batteries.

Just two days before the discovery, families of the missing 44 crew had gathered to listen to President Mauricio Macri. He said the families should not feel abandoned and stressed his “absolute and non-negotiable commitment” to discover “the truth” of what happened.

Argentina sacks Navy chief in first disciplinary action since ARA San Juan loss