The Navy is exploring options to compensate for the eventual departure of Russian support in the search of the ARA San Juan, including turning to the private sector to explore the sea floor if necessary.
When asked is there was time limit for the Russian support, which comes in the form of the Yantar ship and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Panther Plus, Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said today in conversation with Radio La Red that “In regards to international cooperation, every search is finite. At some point the cooperation is going to end.” “Officially, we don’t have a time limit for the Yantar, and meanwhile our ships are continuing the search,” added Captain Balbi.
Last week, the United States scaled down its support for the search operation. The ROVs are necessary to visually inspect contact points found by surface ships.
“Assuming that the Russian Federation decides to withdraw the Yantar, the Navy has the surface resources to continue to map the bottom of the sea. There are various alternatives that are being considered, by the Navy and the Ministry of Defense, in order for the state to hire the same service. It’s possible that the cooperation may end, and in that case the service could then be hired, as there are various companies, public or private, that have the necessary technology to visually inspect the sea floor, be it with an ROV or a manned mini-submarine.”
Today family members of the San Juan crew released a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin pleading with him to maintain Russian support for the search operation “until the end.” The families also thanked Moscow for the assistance provided since November 15, 2017.
On the 49th day of the search, Balbi noted that six contact points had been inspected in the last few days, all of which had turned up negative results. The points had been detected by the Yantar. “All of the formations were poly-metallic, rocky and with rounded edges, to which the sonar indicated could have been the submarine. But once the Panther Plus (ROV) descended, we were able to ascertain that unfortunately they weren’t the San Juan.”
Currently the search is being carried about the ARA Sarandí destroyer, the ARA Islas Malvinas with the Panther Plus on board as well as the Yantar. The ARA San Blas is in the area to resupply the ARA Islas Malvinas.