Saturday, February 24, 2024

ARGENTINA | 25-11-2017 11:33

Snapshots: the crew of the ARA San Juan

Argentina’s first woman submarine officer, a naval officer planning to marry next month, and an experienced commander provide a snapshot of the 44 crew-members of the ARA San Juan.

Lieutenant Eliana María Krawczyk, 35, is thirdin- command of the sub. As chief weapons officer, she is responsible for the ship’s arsenal of 22 torpedoes. She grew up in Misiones province, near the borders with Paraguay and Brazil, around 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from the sea. She dreamed of becoming an engineer but enrolled at naval school after a double family tragedy – her brother’s death in a car accident and her mother dying from a heart attack. She enrolled in the naval school instead, having her first encounter with the sea at 21. She specialised in under-sea warfare, becoming Latin America’s first female submarine officer.

Captain Pedro Martín Fernandez has been commander of the San Juan since 2015. Married with three adolescent children, he flirted with the idea of becoming a teacher before joining the Navy. In two decades of missions and training programmes he has travelled the world. The 45-year-old lived for a decade in Mar del Plata, home port of the Navy’s two operational submarines.

Naval rating Luis Niz, 25, was due to marry soldier Alejandra Morales on December 7. He only joined the crew of the San Juan after getting a promotion in 2016.

Lieutenant Renzo Martín Silva, 32, has been in the Navy since the age of 18. The submarine enthusiast grew up in the foothills of the Andes in the Argentine province of San Juan, for which the submarine was named. He planned to marry his girlfriend, a soldier, Lieutenant Maria Eugenia Ulivarri Rodi, next year.

Fernando Santilli, 35, became a submariner seven years ago. He left the wine-growing province of Mendoza to become an engineer. His wife, Jessica Gopar, posted a moving letter on Facebook on Tuesday, in which she said every day of waiting “is a little harder. There are moments of hope, others of great distress. You cannot imagine how many people are praying for you.” She dedicated a few lines of her note to the commander, asking him to “do the impossible and get back to the surface. You have 44 lives in your hands. I’m waiting for my love. See you soon.”

Rating Mario Armando Toconás Oriundo, 36, has spent 13 years in the Navy. From Patagonia, he went to live in Mar del Plata, a seaside resort as well as the sub’s home port. Father of an eight-year-old boy, his partner is four months pregnant with their second child.

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