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ARGENTINA | 19-11-2018 11:38

ARA San Juan: Government to reward Ocean Infinity with US$7.5m

The remains of the ARA San Juan were discovered just hours after US firm's contract with the government expired.

The US firm Ocean Infinity will receive US$7.5 million for the discovery of the remains of Argentina's ARA San Juan submarine, which went missing in mysterious circumstances in November, 2017.

The discovery on Thursday happened just hours after the US search company's contract with the government expired. 

Ocean Infinity will now reportedly seek to negotiate its continued role in the investigation and recovery of evidence, after material from its initial findings was handed over to the courts and Armed Forces for further analysis.

"Our thoughts are with the many families affected by this terrible tragedy," CEO Oliver Plunkett said in a statement, which was published on Ocean Infinity's social media accounts.

Its Seabed Constructor ship was travelling to South Africa following the discovery. The company had deployed five AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) in separate directions, depths and frequencies in search of the vessel.

"We also hope our work leads to their questions being answered and that lessons can be learned to avoid something similar from happening," Plunkett added.

AREA 15A-4

The discovery of the ARA San Juan in an area just north of the main search area came after relatives, some of whom were onboard the Seabed Constructor, urged Ocean Infinity to discontinue its plans to postpone the search until February.

The submarine's final resting place is in an area known as 15A-4. 

Ocean Infinity had reported 24 days ago that zones 1 and 2 of its mission were 99.8 percent complete, with the outcome being "negative." Those same zones – considered the most promising – had previously been searched by the Russian Yantar and Chilean Cabo de Hornos vessels.

Upon announcing its plans to postpone continued search activity until next year, the company said it would travel to Punta Arenas, Chile, instead of Argentina's port of Comodoro Rivadavia, where it would otherwise have interchanged personnel.

"The company never overlooked that zone. Their strategy was to first searched the easier areas before entering the harder ones. That zone is particularly covered with gullies," Navy Chief Commander José Luis Villán said during a press conference.

The Chilean vessel Cabo de Hornos had reported to its flotilla that it had detected an object in the area.

"The Cabo de Hornos went passed several times, detected an object on the seabed and it was corroborated by another vessel with another sensor," former Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said.

The US Navy had also "recommended" searching that area, according to documents reportedly leaked to local media outlets.

-TIMES

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