In a new press briefing, Navy spokesperson Enrique Balbi conceded for the first time there is a possibility the ARA San Juan submarine, as well as its 44 crew members, are never found. “It is important to have visual contact, to be able to locate it in the bottom of the sea. That might or might not happen,” said Balbi when consulted if the fate of the vessel that went missing 19 days ago will ever be known.
The search operation is now focused on determining if any of the three objects that have been “contacted” (found) at the bottom of the sea effectively is the submarine. Overall, six objects have been identified, but three have been ruled out already. Balbi informed the operation is working on one of the remaining ones – which is 950 meters deep – but that the bad weather conditions are making it hard to continue. The other two objects are 700 and 800 meters deep, but the Russian mini submarine “Pantera Plus” was not able to identify them when it was sent to the area.
Last Thursday, after 15 days of unfruitful search, the Navy announced the end of the search and rescue operation. In other words, it gave up all hope of finding the submarine’s crew members alive. This decision increased even more the tension between representatives from the government and the Navy and the crew’s family members, who demand the operation goes back to considering the possibility their loved ones are alive.