Argentine submarine (44 aboard) goes missing

Hasn’t been heard from since Wednesday the 15th. Hope it won’t be a Kursk-like incident.

Its parked next to that Malaysian airliner.

Vessel class Wikipedia page.

On Saturday morning after 72 hours without contact the operation was officially redesignated as a Search and Rescue. US assets in the area are already pitching in and more on the way, as are Brazilian units and the UK’s Falklands-based survey vessel. Help is also offered by Chile, Uruguay and Perú. The various nations have also offered their satellite data.

Under best case scenario circumstances a crippled sub surfaces and awaits rescue; these boats have horrible seakeeping in the surface and the seas are reported to be mighty stormy so in the best of circumstances let’s just hope they’ll be able to remember this as the worst ride of their careers.

Trivia item: among the crew, as the boat’s Operations/Warfare Officer, is Lieut. Eliana María Krawczyk, who was the first female submarine officer in South America


Lat/long, not so much. But altitude is probably pretty close. :slight_smile:

In my day I had close contact with some Latin American air forces that owned a lot more aging equipment than they could afford to maintain properly or use regularly. Every flight was a roll of the dice; dice loaded against the crew.

I hope this isn’t a case of that although I rather suspect it is.

I couldn’t quickly locate depth charts of that general area. My bet is ~260 miles off the coast is beyond the continental shelf so if they started downhill uncontrollably they crushed rather than are possibly sitting on the bottom at a rescuable depth. But that’s guesswork absent any charts of the area.

The submarine is 34 years old; not sure how aged that is by submersible standards but probably a definite hazard.

Found this site which is more or less a Google Maps for ocean depths. The area ("south-east Valdez peninsula) is only around 100 meters deep for a fair distance out, but once it leaves the continental shelf it drops fast to 5000 meters deep.

Sub tried to send messages but they didn’t make it through. Sound like MH370’s handshakes.

Oh, OK. Wow. I had thought USN subs were typically decommissioned around 30-35 years. Maybe US nuke-powered subs and their global missions accumulate a lot more wear and tear?

The U.S. Navy just has more money.

Excellent find; thank you.

The news articles put the last known position some 250nm offshore. We can’t be 100% sure, but it looks to me like that’s past the edge of the shelf anywhere along there. Once it starts to drop off, it goes from 100 meters to 1000 meters in the space of just a few miles. The unclassified max safe depth on that boat seems to be around 300 meters, so I (total WAG) the point of no hope as maybe 500-600 meters. So they probably avoided a Kursk scenario. IOW, right now they’re probably either wallowing without power on the surface or are long-since crushed in the deep.


The central issue is not only age but ongoing maintenance. Also the overall command attitude towards how much stuff can be broken or only sorta working before you quit using the sub pending repairs.

One thing that happens in resource constrained environments is you scrimp on the routine testing that will find defects. e.g.Before leaving port let’s not test the backup bilge pumps like the manufacturer says to. If they don’t work we’re gonna be tied up here for weeks. They worked last time we tested, so surely they’ll work next time. Besides, they’re only a backup system; our main pumps are fine.Multiply that by a hundred minor things and it can add up to a major thing. Many disasters unfold due to backup systems that turn out to be either inadequate by design or that malfunction when needed.

Anyone who works in corporate IT can recognize this “don’t go looking for problems” attitude as standard management behavior. When was the last time you did a restore-from-backup test on a mission critical system? Not as a tabletop exercise, but using real backups and real hardware?

You’d like to hope that attitude doesn’t extend to safety of life systems, but the military culture in general is real good at getting the mission done despite the obstacles. Couple that with the “normalization of deviation” behavior common to all human organizations, and pretty soon it becomes normal to operate raggedy equipment.
We won’t know what really did happen for a long time. So it’s worthwhile not to build too tall a pile of speculation right here right now. The sub may have been in perfect mechanical condition until they ran into an uncharted sea mount. That’s happened before: These USN guys got lucky; it was a very near thing.

Is the beaten up sail just from being thirty years old?

the US sends some P-8s and UAVs:

(includes video of the rough seas in the area)

Sadly, we’re nearing the end. Reports are they will be running out of oxygen soon.

carnivorousplant likely. The sail in a modern sub is mostly a hollow fairing for the periscopes/snorkels/antennae and need not look too good as long as it affords protection.

Planes and vessels from USA, UK, Brasil, Norway, Chile, Peru, Colombia, France, Italy, Uruguay, and various oil companies in the search now, Spain providing support supplies.

The information sources indicate the day before losing contact the sub had reported electrical issues and that they were heading directly back to homebase. There is some confusion from different spokesmen’s versions, since the boat was to go to Mar del Plata anyway, if that meant they were cutting short the patrol or that they had finished it.

When a sub has issues, shouldn’t they head for the surface before anything? Assuming some vital security isn’t compromised, that is.

I think they would be on the surface to use their radio transmitter.

This story is getting zero traction on local, or any “news” for that matter.

Some thoughts…

Argentina has submarines? According to Wikipedia there are 41 countries operating submarines, including Perú, Azerbaijan, Singapore, and Vietnam. Interesting.

I found this picture of her:ía+Krawczyk&client=safari&hl=en-us&prmd=inmv&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjCyM-fi9LXAhVqwYMKHfaVAT0Q_AUIEigB&biw=768&bih=922#imgrc=R0O1R-0Dsr-suM:

This reminds me of a good book by Peter Maas, the author of Serpico. It’s a story of Swede Momsen and the 1939 rescue of the Squalus (SS-192). The book is The Terrible Hours: The Greatest Submarine Rescue in History. An excellent read.

I hope the crew of the ARA San Juan can be rescued!