Photo via Telam

Navy spokesperson Enrique Balbi informed this morning that the search and rescue operation for the ARA San Juan submarine, which went missing nine days ago, is still proving unfruitful.

However, after it was revealed yesterday that an explosion was recorded in the area in which the submarine went missing, consensus among the media and even the 44-people-crew’s family members is that the crisis had the worst possible outcome. Because even in the extremely unlikely case that the explosion didn’t take place inside the submarine, or did but was not lethal, the passing of time and consequent lack of oxygen practically rule out the possibility to find them alive.

The only bit of information that can be highlighted from the 30 minutes during which Balbi addressed press is the fact that there are still no traces of the vessel. “The search is proving to be extremely difficult. It is a very big and hostile area,” he said. However, he confirmed the operation will continue until getting information on the submarine and did not set a time limit for it.

In fact, a spokesperson for the US Marines said that they are staying put until told otherwise by the Argentine Navy.” Balbi also informed that a Russian plane is set to join the search today. Furthermore, Balbi reiterated there are six ships in the area trying to map the bottom of the sea to try to locate the submarine.

However, the possibility of not recovering the submarine exists. The lowest depth of the area in which it went missing is of 200 meters, but in some areas it can reach 3,000 meters deep. And the rescue submarine provided by the US Navy – the most modern in the world, according to Balbi – can to 600 meters deep. If the vessel is further beneath the ocean surface, it will be factually impossible to get it back with the current technology.

Changes in the Navy

According to press, President Mauricio Macri intends to remove Admiral Marcelo Srur as head of the Navy. Not only because of this crisis, but due to the way in which it was handled. Defense Minister Oscar Aguad has ordered 40 internal affairs investigations be opened to determine if Navy officials were negligent in their actions, and whether they withheld information from the government, as it is suspected.

However, this is reportedly set to happen once the operation concludes, with or without the retrieval of the submarine. “The changes will happen, but there are other priorities now. However, it is not likely we will go back on the decision,” an aide of Aguad told La Nación. When consulted about this, Balbi said he couldn’t provide an answer. The minister, for now, is not at risk of losing his job.