Defense Minister Oscar Aguad (center) will appear before Congress in relation to the search for the ARA San Juan on April 17. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas)

Defense Minister Oscar Aguad will have to answer questions about the search for the ARA San Juan in front of a special Congressional Bicameral Committee looking into the fate of the submarine.

Aguad will appear on April 17 before the committee, which is made up of a combination of senators and deputies, met today with relatives of the 44 sailors aboard the submarine that last made contact on November 15, 2017. Today was the committee’s first meeting since it was formed and a motion calling for amendments to the criminal code punishing anyone failing to cooperate with the committee were proposed and approved. Any such changes to the criminal code will require a vote in the Senate and Lower before they become law.

The committee will also request information from the Navy, Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces, the SIGEN and AGN audit bodies, the Tandanor shipbuilder and the courts that are investigating the disappearance.

A multinational effort to find the San Juan has not been able to find the vessel and PRO lawmaker Guillermo Montenegro said today that the government is considering contracting a Venezuelan company to lead the search efforts.

Luis Tagliaprieta, who yesterday filed a criminal complaint against Aguad for failing to uphold the duties of a public official, breach of duty of care, aggravated cover-up and treason said today “we want to find them and find out the truth, just as broad, simple and complex as that.

“We understand that the government has not done everything that has to be done to achieve this objective, nor told us everything that it had tells us in a frank and open manner” said Tagliapietra, whose son Alejandro Tagliapietra was on the San Juan.

The last time the ARA San Juan made contact was in November 2017. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas)
The last time the ARA San Juan made contact was in November 2017. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas)

In conversation with Radio Mitre today Aguad said that “we have always told the truth. We have always put everything on the table. Information was never hid from anyone and if the media publishes different versions of the same information, that’s beyond us.”

Months on the disappearance, search efforts have revealed no hints about where the submarine may be.

On Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 7:19 AM, 44 crew members of the submarine San Juan were reportedly “fatigued” after enduring a storm with waves soaring up to 6 meters above the surface, according to a recently discovered encrypted message, Clarín reported. The messages also indicated that amid the storm, the commander ordered the vessel to submerge 40 meters underwater, in order to both repair the submarine’s batteries, and to rest.

The last encrypted message, sent by Navy Lieutenant Fernando Villarreal to the Center of Submarine Communications, reported that they “were on periscope level,” meaning that the mast of the boat was still above sea level. At this time, the sub was powered by a “split circuit” because the batteries from the bow of the boat had been disconnected due to “a short circuit and the beginnings of a fire.”

The message also indicated that the San Juan was headed to Mar del Plata at a speed of 5 knots.