Following a meeting with family members of the 44 crew members of the ARA San Juan, the government will has indicated that it will offer a reward to the ship that can locate the submarine.
Advanced technology is required to scan the ocean floor, which is full of underwater canyons in the search area.
Family members also met with Social Development Minister Carolina Stanley to discuss grants for the children of sailors on the San Juan. The submarine last made contact on November 15, 2017 and the search has yet to turn up any concrete results.
The meeting came at a time of heavy criticism from the families for the national government, a result of what they consider to be a lack of effort to find the vessel, or to at least confirm what happened to it.
Speaking after the meeting ended, Defence Minister Oscar Aguad said “it was a very constructive meeting. These are emotionally difficult situations. The president expressed his grief and firm intent to continue searching for the submarine and the commitment to continue searching with the best technology.” Macri was joined by Vice-President Gabriela Michetti, Vice-Admiral José Luis Villán (currently head of the Navy) and Chief of Staff Fernando de Andreis at the meeting in the Casa Rosada.
While family members had sought for a US $4 million reward, Aguad declined to confirm that number today and indicated instead that the offer would close to that number.
Aguad also promised that the Angelescu, which had been previously helping with the search, would once again assist with the search. The Russian ship Yantar as well as Russian remotely operated vehicles checking the ocean floor will work through the end of February. The Navy has already indicated that it has been preparing for the eventual withdrawal of Russian assistance.
According to Aguad, the government “wants to know if there was corruption in the repair of the vessel, if there was negligence, and if it was an accident we also want to know what happened. Obviously it be of a great help to find the submarine.” The minister lauded the work carried out by Federal Judge Marta Yáñez and the investigative commission with retired Navy officials that is examining what may have happened to the submarine.
Luis Tagliapietra, father of one of the San Juan crew members and a lawyer representing plaintiffs in the case, said that “we once again asked for requests that we had made before, such as an increase of the search area and the resources used in the search, the contracting of private companies, to request the active support of fishing boats. We asked for more commitment, more communication, that the whole truth be told, that there be cooperation with the courts” according to the Noticias Argentinas wire service.
“We didn’t get all of the answers that we were looking for. I trust in the president’s goodwill. But he has to carry that out with concrete measures” said Tagliapietra.
Speaking before the meeting, María Rosa del Castro aid that family members would ask “that the search continue and that those responsible be punished. For me the people who are responsible are those who were responsible in the navy at the time and now under review.” Del Castro’s son Fernando Villarreal was aboard the San Juan.