The ARA San Juan submarine suffered a glitch similar to the one that investigators believe was responsible for its destruction and disappearance around November 15, Defence Minister Oscar Aguad admitted yesterday.
“There was only one similar incident to what happened, what we believe happened, and the captain realised: Water came in the snorkel with the difference being that on that occasion it did not reach the batteries”, he told the TN news network.
“At the beginning of September, the captain (of the ARA San Juan) checked the vessel from top to bottom. We have his signature and it says the submarine is in perfect conditions to navigate”, Agaud added describing the incident as a “minor breakdown” which was scheduled to be checked and repaired in early 2018.
For its part, the Navy yesterday indicated for the first time publicly that there is a possibility the remains of the vessel will never be found.
Russia's Yantar oceanographic research ship would arrive in the search area today. The US Atlantis research vessel is expected to arrive Saturday. They are equipped with deep submergence vehicles that allow them to examine undersea areas nearly 6,000 metres.
The ships will join five vessels from Argentina and a Chilean ship combing an area of some 4,000 square kilometres, where sonar detected three unidentified objects on the sea floor to see if they belong to the missing sub.
The San Juan disappeared as it was sailing from the southernmost port of Ushuaia to the coastal city of Mar del Plata after a patrol.
The navy has said the vessel's captain reported that water entered the snorkel and caused one of the submarine's batteries to short circuit. The captain later communicated by satellite phone that the problem had been contained, the navy says.
Some hours later, an explosion was detected near the time and place where the San Juan was last heard from. Balbi has said the blast could have been triggered by a "concentration of hydrogen" caused by the battery problem reported by the captain.