Two days after the first anniversary of its disappearance on Nov 15 last year, ARA San Juan submarine, above, (Photo credit: CEDOC) was found at a depth of 800 metres in the waters off the Valdes Peninsula in Argentine Patagonia, the defence ministry confirmed citing a company which had been heading the search for the vessel.
The US firm Ocean Infinity made the breakthrough hours before it was to suspend its search operations.
Ocean Infinity’s search crew, who headed to the wreck site, used a remote-operated submersible to confirm that the 60 metres long object they spotted in the depths of the Atlantic was ARA San Juan.
The government first informed families of the 44 navy officers who were in the submarine before making a public announcement.
The German-built TR-1700 class submarine was sailing from the southernmost port of Ushuaia to Mar del Plata after a patrol when it vanished.
Some 18 countries joined a massive search for the missing submarine for weeks but withdrew before the end of the year.
Argentine Navy was criticised for late acknowledgement of issues with the vessel’s batteries. The captain of the vessel had reported problems with one of the batteries after water entered the snorkel. That issue was addressed and the captain said they were heading toward Mar del Plata.
Days later, two external agencies alerted investigators about an “underwater impulsive event” near the location where the submarine went missing. The navy linked the blast to the battery problem.
Following this, several senior officers including Navy chief Marcelo Srur were sacked.
Argentina struck a $7.5-million deal with Ocean Infinity this year to search for the vessel for at least 60 days. According to the deal, the firm would receive the money only if the ARA San Juan was found. The firm began its search on September 8.
The government is expected to initiate steps to raise the vessel from the waters.