Atlantis loads equipment for Argentine submarine rescue (Photo courtesy of US Southern Command)

The US Navy is scaling back its presence in the search for the ARA San Juan, now missing for 42 days, withdrawing the Atlantis research vessel and the CURV21 remotely operated vehicle. US analytical and planning specialists will remain to continue to assist with the search. The US Southern Command noted that the reduction was taking place “after completing its support requests by the government of Argentina.”

The Argentine Navy has also reassigned the ARA Puerto Argentino to Ushuaia to support the transfer of two MI17 helicopters to Antarctica.

The Navy has published maps of the search areas assigned to each ship looking for the ARA San Juan. (Credit Argentine Navy handout)
The Navy has published maps of the search areas assigned to each ship looking for the ARA San Juan. (Credit Argentine Navy handout)

 

A statement by the US Southern Command noted that the “U.S. support team completed all searches in areas assigned by the Argentine Navy, sweeping each area twice with advanced sensors. Despite the best efforts on behalf of the Argentine people and the families of the missing sailors, this international effort has yet to locate the ARA San Juan.” The scaling back process will begin today.

An earlier statement by the Argentine Navy indicated that the Atlantis would return to the tasks that it had been assigned to at the time when the San Juan went missing. The CURV was being used to visually inspect contact points detected by ships in the search area.

Yesterday the Atlantis inspected various contact points, none of which were related to the missing submarine. Contact points detected by the ARA Sarandí destroyer and examined by the ARA Islas Malvinas with the Russian ROV Panther Plus have also turned up negative results. There are reports that Russian support will continue through the first weeks of January, assuming that the submarine is not found earlier.

The Panther Plus ROV has searched several contact points with no positive results. (Credit Navy handout)
The Panther Plus ROV has searched several contact points with no positive results. (Credit Navy handout)

 

“On behalf of the people of the United States, we offer our respects to the families of the crew of A.R.A. San Juan and the people of Argentina,” said Rear Admiral Daniel B. Abel, director of operations, US Southern Command. By the Southern Command’s account, the US assisted with search efforts for the San Juan with “three advanced aircrafts, over 200 search and rescue personnel, four submersibles, one specialized underwater rescue unit, one ship, and dropped over 400 sonar buoys. Additionally, the United States provided the most advanced sonar system in the world, which was mounted on Argentine search vessels.”

A bicameral commission to investigate the San Juan’s disappearance is expected to be confirmed today and the Navy will be providing legal and administrative advise to the family members of the missing crew members tomorrow and on Friday.

The last time contact was made with the ARA San Juan was on November 15.