Representatives of family members of the missing ARA San Juan submarine’s crew told the local media that Defense Minister Oscar Aguad has committed to make use of more government resources to the search for the vessel that disappeared on November 15 of last year.
Lorena Arias, an attorney providing legal counsel to 16 families in the case investigating the disappearance of the submarine, told La Nación that, at her clients’ request, the Defense Ministry will hire a company with the necessary resources to continue the search. She added that the hiring should take place either today or tomorrow.
The requests intensified after Russian ship Yantar withdrew from the search operation on April 2. The Yantar was the last non-Argentine ship involved in the search, and the only one that had two remote-controlled vehicles that could be submerged to a depth of up to 6,000 meters to inspect contact points found by surface ships.
Currently the ARA Islas Argentinas is the only ship tasked with searching the submarine in the combing area set by the Argentine Navy.
The family members expect the government to hire an American company called Sea – owned by a Venezuelan – which promised to find the vessel in less than 100 days. This company owns remotely controlled torpedoes, which can comb the sea bed up to a depth of 1,000 meters.
If that company does not end up being hired, Aguad said the ministry he leads will look for another one with similar technology. Other two American companies have expressed interest in the job, motivated by the US $5 million reward that the Macri administration offers to whoever can find the submarine.
However, this reward offer will be suspended if the government ends up directly hiring a company, as part of the money would be destined to paying for its services. Sea has reportedly asked for US $3.8 million for the job, but would be willing to get started if they are given ten percent of the sum as an upfront payment.
“We will continue with the search. There is a commitment made with the crew members, the families, the Argentine society, the 44 heroes who have given their lives looking after our interests,” Aguad said when meeting the crew’s family members last week.