Buenos Aires Times

argentina Not considered 'emergency'

Navy: Submarine made eight calls prior to disappearance

The judge investigating the disappearance of the ARA San Juan yesterday denied that the Navy had supplied her with information about the eight calls.

Thursday 7 December, 2017
Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi has become the face of the ARA San Juan public relations disaster involving the Navy and Defence Ministry's miscommunication or silence about important developments.
Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi has become the face of the ARA San Juan public relations disaster involving the Navy and Defence Ministry's miscommunication or silence about important developments. Foto:Télam

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The ARA San Juan made eight outbound calls prior to its disappearance on November 15 but none of these were considered “emergencies”, the Navy said on Tuesday.

In yet another surprise revelation, Navy spokesperson Enrique Balbi told reporters Tuesday that the missing vessel had on eight occasions tried but failed to establish an internet connection on the night of November 14 through to the following day.

“These calls were reported to authorities and even to federal judge Marta Yáñez” who is investigating the case, Balbi said.

However, Yáñez yesterday denied she had received such information and took aim at authorities over their handling of the case in general.

“I have to base myself on legally obtained evidence which is not the same as finding out in the newspapers”, she told Radio Nacional.

“I asked for more technical resources last week but I still haven’t received a reply”.

The judge added that it is still too early for conclusions about the fate of the ARA San Juan or to determine any criminal responsibility surrounding its disappearance.

A PUBLIC RELATIONS DISASTER

To date, and for both the Navy and Defence Ministry, the ARA San Juan crisis has been a public relations disaster.

Much of what has become known about the fate of the missing vessel has been leaked to the media prior to the Navy or Defence Ministry making it public, prompting anger among the relatives of the 44 officers on board.

On Monday, Defence Minister Oscar Aguad revealed on prime time television that the ARA San Juan had suffered a similar glitch to the one likely to have caused its disappearance, a “minor breakdown” which the Navy had scheduled for maintenance in 2018.

And late last week, the Navy confirmed long-held rumours stemming from the very first news reports into the disappearance about an explosion heard in the vicinity of the vessel around the time of its last communication. A copy of the communication which the Navy received from the ARA San Juan was also later leaked to the press.

-TIMES

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