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Old 11-21-2017, 02:26 PM
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Arrow Clock Ticks As Argentine Submariners Run Out Of Air As US, Allies Race To Rescue

Clock Ticks As Argentine Submariners Run Out Of Air As US, Allies Race To Rescue
By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. - on November 21, 2017 at 12:26 PM

In an extraordinary international response, a dozen nations have poured assets into the stormy South Atlantic to aid the effort to find and save the 44 Argentine submariners. It’s a stark contrast to the last great submarine disaster,when Russia was slow to accept international help for the stricken Kursk in 2000 and lost all 118 souls aboard.
From Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida, the US Navy has deployed two of its latest long-range, land-based patrol plane, the P-8 Poseidon (whose main mission, ironically, is to find submarines and sink them, not rescue). One aircraft came straight from Florida while the other was diverted from counter-drug operations out of El Salvador. They are joined by a NASA Arctic exploration aircraft, a civilianized P-3 Orion — the P-8’s predecessor.

The Navy has also deployed a panoply of rescue equipment for both deep and shallow water, since the depth at which the submarine has sunk is unknown. The newly created Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron 1 in Pearl Harbor has sent three Iver 580 UUVs — able to operate up to 325 feet for up to 14 hours — and one much larger Bluefin 12D — able to operate up to “almost 5,000 feet” for 30 hours.

Undersea Rescue Command in San Diego has sent both its shallow-water Submarine Rescue Chamber — able to rescue six sailors at a time from a depth of up to 850 feet — and the deep-water Pressurized Rescue Module — able to rescue 16 at a time from up to 2,000 feet under. The PRM, almost uniquely, can connect to a downed submarine’s hatches even if the sub is pitched at a steep angle on the ocean floor, something that defeats most rescue systems. All this specialized equipment is heavy: It took three Air Force C-17s and one massive C-5 Galaxy to deliver.

Argentina’s South America neighbors Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay have all sent either ships or aircraft. Brazil, long Argentina’s rival for influence in the region, has sent the most: two planes, two government vessels, and two ships from the national oil company Petrobras.

From Europe come more aircraft — British, French, and German — and ships: two Royal Navy vessels and a Norwegian cargo ship. The multinational NATO Submarine Rescue System is also on call, and Italy is contributing satellite surveillance.

Can all these assets actually help, or is it already too late? The worst-case scenario is that the San Juan, which was returning to base with battery problems, already suffered a catastrophic failure that killed all aboard. This could have been a hull breach: The German-built sub entered service in 1985 and is past the hull’s 30-year design life. Or, if the sub sank to the sea floor in the open ocean, beyond the continental shelf, it would have descended beyond its crush depth and been destroyed.

If the San Juan sank in shallower waters, however, its crew could still be alive, for now. Unlike the US Navy’s nuclear-powered vessels, which have effectively infinite electricity to purify their air, the San Juan is a diesel submarine that runs on battery power when submerged below snorkel depth. Argentine Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said the sub had enough air to survive seven days, and it went missing on the morning of November 15th — six days ago. The most optimistic estimate I’ve seen, by an outside expert, was 10 days of air.

The absolute best case is that the San Juan is on the surface, not submerged, just adrift and unable to communicate. This scenario seems sadly unlikely, however. The San Juan was submerged as of its last communication (subsequent reports of satellite calls and sonar returns proved false). Satellites, aircraft, and surface ships have been searching the area where it disappeared for almost a week, but heavy weather in the South Atlantic has lowered visibility.

That weather, however, is a problem in itself. The Argentine Navy posted a video of waves breaking over the deck of one of its ships and onto the bridge windows. A submarine, lying much lower in the water, would be tossed about unmercifully, and one with a major malfunction such as a power failure might not stay afloat.

As fast as international help pours in, time is running out for the San Juan. Regardless of the outcome of the search, there is still some good that could come of this. The outpouring of support from both the Americas and Europe should help strengthen international naval cooperation and generate a bank of goodwill even if the 44 sailors are never found.


Let's hope they find that sub - regardless from what country their from. They will find them I only hope they don't run out of air or suffered from major decompression at depth.
Prayers go out for the submariners and their families.


O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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