Hopes fading, Argentina ends rescue aspect of search for sub

The search for a missing Argentine submarine will continue but the rescue part of the plan has ended, a spokesman for the navy said on Thursday.

ARA San Juan, a diesel-electric powered submarine with a 44-strong crew aboard, stopped responding to radio communications on November 15.

Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said the rescue mission had "extended for more than twice what is estimated for a rescue".

Officials have said the submarine had enough air for seven to 10 days when submerged.

Some relatives of the crew broke into tears after they received the news.

Others questioned the decision to send the 34-year-old submarine on the the southern naval base of Ushuaia to Mar del Plata in the north.

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The captain later communicated by satellite phone the problem had been contained.

After contact with the San Juan was lost, the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization, an worldwide body that runs a global network of listening posts created to check for secret atomic blasts, detected a noise the navy said could have been the submarine's implosion. "The defense ministry announces the start of the next phase, aimed at searching for the San Juan submarine".

Balbi said 28 ships, nine planes and 4,000 people from 18 countries were involved in the search covering 557,000 nautical miles; more, including radar monitoring. The U.S. Navy also said Thursday that its Cable-operated Unmanned Recovery Vehicle 21 had been deployed to join the search efforts after Argentina shifted its focus to undersea assets capable of deep seafloor searches.

Meanwhile, Argentine President Mauricio Macri has ordered a probe into the sub's disappearance.

At the same time, Balbi insisted that efforts to find the German-built ARA San Juan would continue to a maximum depth of 500 meters - an announcement met with anger by relatives of the missing 44 crew.

During the $12 million retrofitting, the vessel was cut in half and had its engines and batteries replaced. "What they are really saying is that they're not going to be looking for it any more". "I hope you didn't suffer my love".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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