Argentinian Submarine - Recovery?

My understanding is that Glomar Explorer, which was used in an attempt to recover a Soviet submarine in 1968, was scrapped. Had it not been, would it have been capable to recover the recently-located Argentinian submarine?

The Soviet sub was 16,000 feet down. The Argentinian sub is 800 metres down. I would think that would mean Glomar Ex could do it.

The Glomar has been scrapped. Raising that submarine would entail great costs (emphasis on the great).

The government has to think about the cost-benefit for raising the submarine. Just to recover decayed bodies? I wouldn’t think that would be worth it, but for some people it is really important.

Reaching it is one thing. Recovering it a completely different one.

Sure, but it DID get a large piece of that sub at 16000 feet (4876 meters), and it only failed to recover the whole thing due to a failure as it was bringing it up with one of the cables. Presumably if you were working at 600 meters instead of 4000 meters it would be easier to bring something like that up, so I’d say yeah…you could have had a good chance of recovering it if someone actually wanted too. It would cost a hell of a lot and I can’t see it would be worth the effort, but you could do it.

You might not even need something like the GE to do it in fact. I imagine that if a bunch of blokes could bring up most of the German fleet in Skapa Flow after WWI that today you could do similar things at 600 meters. That’s dive-able, though it’s something that has some real risk in it.

The public pressure in Argentina is to recover the bodies, not the whole submarine. That’s not to say it would easy or economically feasible to recover the bodies either, just a potentially different goal. The parts of the sub’s structure which created a (basically) sea level pressure environment for the crew explosively imploded, surely. Whether that would provide enough access for a submersible to reach inside and recover any bodies…? I guess not, but it’s potentially not quite as challenging as raising the whole sub to get all the bodies (and some could potentially fall out anyway). Raising the sub is not going to happen. Any recovery probably will not.

I’d imagine they’d also be interested in figuring out what went wrong.

But I tend to agree that this is likely to wind up in the “too difficult / risky / expensive” file.

There is no shortage of near equivalent capability to the Glomar Explorer about. Deep sea drilling actually owes quite a bit to technology pioneered by it. The ability to get a dynamically stable platform precisely located in the deep ocean and have the capability to operate at significant depth is exactly what you want when drilling for oil and gas. And there are support ships that are used to cope with difficult deep water operations. The trouble is that those rigs cost of the order of a million dollars a day to operate, and you need to add the cost of getting it to your location. I’m sure the sub could be raised, but you would want to be thinking in terms of circa $100M for the job.
It is perhaps ironic - and sad - that the last owner of the Glomar Explorer was Transocean, which it the largest operator of giant drill rigs (and owned the rig leased by BP that sank in the Gulf of Mexico during the Mancondo disaster.) The Glomar Explorer was built to go very deep, but that isn’t needed for the latest sub disaster.

I wonder what state any human remains would be in after being in the middle of an explosive decompression a year submerged in the ocean. I am guessing only bones and many of those severely damaged.

It’s only been one year. Cold water and pressure are really good at preserving things. It takes a bit for the organisms (esp. worms and such) to get in and do their job. Life moves slower at depth so it’s not like a lot of fast eating will occur.

But Argentina is not exactly the most financially flushed country in the world. I expect they’ll drop a wreath on the site and that’s it.

I think the sub is in mutliple pieces. Doesn’t this complicate recover?

Compression, not decompression, and not explosive. Most of the initial damage would likely be from the violence of the water entering the pressure hull when it ruptured. As ftg said decomposition is very slow at that temperature & pressure, but if there are major openings in the hull it’s likely that sealife has been at them as well.

Here’s the result of experiment with pigs at 300 meters, out in the open. Skeletonized in a few days. Although all highly variable to exact conditions and types of sealife.

This has been debated with the Titanic, whether there are any actual remains under sets of clothes found laid out in the shape of people, or whether it’s possible no remains at all remain anywhere in view, but bones could remain in deeply recessed spaces lower in the ship. It just isn’t known.

On sub hull failure sure it’s compression, and implosion not decompression or explosion technically, but the violence is typically more like what’s conveyed by the word explosion. Assuming the hull survived mainly intact down to near its expected crush depth it will be pretty shredded. It’s not going to keep out the organisms relevant at that depth. In theory small compartments might flood fast enough though small openings to not implode, just retain an air bubble at ~850 psi (600 meters of water) but it’s not likely. Whether the shredded hull offers a practical way for robotic or less likely human (it’s within the limit for atmospheric diving suits but hard to imagine risking anyone in one of those bulky suits trying to enter a wreck) divers to get in and recover bones is doubtful though.