US deploying assets to help rescue missing Argentine submarine
WATCH Search for missing Argentine submarine with 44 crew members onboard
The U.S. Navy and Air Force are answering the calls by the Argentine government by deploying more resources into the massive rescue mission already underway to locate a missing Argentine submarine with 44 crew members aboard, Pentagon officials told ABC News.
On Saturday, the Undersea Rescue Comand, or URC, shipped out two "independent rescue assets" from San Diego en route to the Southern Atlantic, where the Argentine Navy lost communications with one of its submarines. They are expected to arrive on Sunday, officials said.
The highly trained American sailors will employ advanced technology on the Submarine Rescue Chamber, or SRC, which has already been in touch with the family members of the 44 on board, and will utilize an underwater system called Remotely Operated Vehicle, or ROV. It can climb down to depths of 850-feet and pull to safety "up to six persons at a time," the Pentagon officials said.
The sailors will also be relying on Pressurized Rescue Module, or PRM, which can rescue "up to 16 personnel at a time … by sealing over the submarine's hatch allowing sailors to safely transfer to the recuse chamber," according to officials.
The American reinforcements will join the Navy's P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft and a NASA P-3 research aircraft that have been assisting the ongoing search for the ARA San Juan, a German-built TR 1700 class diesel-electric submarine.
Before vanishing on Wednesday, the vessel was on a routine trip from a base in Ushia, on the southern tip of the continent, to its home base of Mar del Plata.
The submarine's last-known position in the area of operations was near the San Jorge Gulf, about 240 nautical miles from the country's southern shore.
When the submarine lost touch with its navy, a fire reportedly knocked out the submarine's communications systems.
No SOS warning was received at any time, the Navy said.
Adm. Gabriel Gonzalez, according to The Associated Press, said he was still hopeful that the submarine is only suffering minor equipment troubles and so far doesn't consider the loss of touch as being something grave.
"We have a loss of communications. We are not talking of an emergency," said
The ARA San Juan debuted in 1983 and is one of only three in the Argentine Navy's fleet.
It hadn't experienced any problems until two years ago, when it was sent to port to be repaired, the Navy said.
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