Water entered the snorkel of an Argentine submarine and caused one of its batteries to short circuit before the vessel went missing 12 days ago, a navy spokesman confirmed Monday following the release of the submarine's final communication with its base.
of seawater through ventilation system to battery tank No. 3 caused a short
circuit and the beginning of a fire in the balcony of battery area. Bow
batteries out of service At the moment of immersion, propelling with a
split circuit.I will keep you informed," the text reads.
Hopes for survivors have been largely crushed by reports of an explosion detected near the time and place where the ARA San Juan was last heard from on November 15.
Since then, there have been no signs of the sub or debris despite an intensive multinational search. Experts have said the 44 sailors aboard had only enough oxygen to last up to 10 days if the sub remained intact but submerged.
The navy said last week that before the submarine went missing, the captain reported an electrical problem in a battery compartment and the vessel was ordered to return to its base in the coastal city of Mar del Plata, about 400 kilometers southeast of Buenos Aires.
Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told reporters Monday that the captain said water had entered through the snorkel when the sub was charging batteries. The water went through the ventilation system to a battery connection tray in the prow and "caused a short circuit and the beginning of a fire, or smoke without flame," he said.
Balbi said the captain later communicated by satellite phone that the problem had been contained.