Signals from missing Argentine sub give hope for rescue effort


Second US Navy P-8A Aircraft Joins Argentina's Submarine Search

A second U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft will deploy to Bahia Blanca, Argentina, today to join an ongoing global search for the Argentinean Navy's submarine A.R.A. San Juan in Southern Atlantic waters.

Hopes of finding survivors were revived when the navy said Saturday that its bases had received seven satellite calls attributed to the submersible.

United States satellite communications company Iridium Communications Inc, which was brought in to help analyse the calls, said they did not originate with its device aboard the vessel and may have been from another satellite communications company's equipment.

Balbi said it was following the northward course the submarine would have taken toward Mar del Plata.

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"We are working arduously to locate it and we are transmitting our hopes to the families of the 44 crew members: that they may soon have them in their homes", he wrote.

Gonzalez said the navy had intensified an aerial hunt off the country's southern Atlantic coast after adverse weather conditions spurred waves up to 26 feet (8 meters) and made a maritime search hard.

One Navy P-8A aircraft is already in Argentina, where it joined a NASA P-3 research aircraft already supporting the ongoing search efforts over the submarine's last known location.

However, the navy was unable to confirm that those calls originated from the submarine.

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"We are not discounting any hypothesis", Balbi said, adding that possibilities to explain the submarine's disappearance include "a problem with communications" or with its power system.

Despite the bad weather, "10 aircraft, both domestic and foreign, are in a search rotation 24 hours a day, each in a different area", he said.

The navy said an electrical outage on the diesel-electric-propelled vessel might have downed its communications.

The sailors will also be relying on Pressurized Rescue Module, or PRM, which can rescue "up to 16 personnel at a time ... by sealing over the submarine's hatch allowing sailors to safely transfer to the recuse chamber", according to officials.

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Crew members' relatives gathered at a naval base in the coastal city of Mar del Plata, where the submarine had been expected to arrive around noon on Sunday from Ushuaia. However, it would not be unusual for storms to cause delays, Balbi said.

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