As 4,000 join the search for the ARA San Juan, experts worry that the submarine could run out of oxygen soon.
Experts say the Argentine submarine, which mysteriously disappeared last week, may soon run out of oxygen if it has been unable to rise to replenish its oxygen supply.
The ARA San Juan, a TR-1700-class diesel-electric submarine that was originally constructed in Germany during the 1980s, was last heard from on Nov. 15 and carries a maximum 7 day supply, meaning the supply is likely to run out sometime on Wednesday.
Other experts say the Argentine submarine, which mysteriously disappeared last week, may be at the bottom of the Mar del Plata.
A theory established from seven failed satellite calls detected this weekend by the Argentine Navy, has submarine experts say that a battery failure- an issue typical for this particular model- may have sent the ship and its crew of 44 to the sea floor.
According to Navy spokesman, Enrique Balbi, the captain of the ARA sub called to report a failure in the battery system the day of the disappearance. Balbi said the shipman had described it as the beginning of a failure.
In this case, professionals say, the captain would have decided to surface per the emergency protocol, regardless of weather conditions. However, a loss of power would send the ship 700 meters below the waves.
The ARA San Juan had been traveling from a base in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago to its home base in Mar del Plata, a city hundreds of miles to the northeast. Its last known location was radioed on Wednesday in the San Jorge Gulf, 240 nautical miles from the coast, which nearly midway between the two spots.
Experts say in this situation, crew members would have enough food to survive as ships of that size generally carry triple the necessary supplies. As they were scheduled to dock in Mar del Plata today, oxygen shortage would be the more pressing concern.
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"In normal conditions, the air is enough for a week, but we must see if there was an incident that affected the interior atmosphere of the ship, such as fire," Horacio Tobias, a retired officer of ARA San Juan told El Confidencial.
All underwater sea vessels carry emergency oxygen and meters to pump it into the ship, however, Tobias said time is of the essence. Generally, a mechanism in the ship would release and send the submarine floating to the surface, concerned experts say, admitting confusion in the sub's failure to appear.
"If he had run out of batteries, he can’t move or use the most effective systems to communicate,” vice admiral Antonio Mozzarelli said, “but he has food for 20 days and enough oxygen."
Thirteen international naval units and 10 aircrafts have mobilized to assist in the search and rescue operations, Argentine Defense Minister, Oscar Aguad said.
President Mauricio Macri spoke to the missing crew’s family members Monday, reassuring them that the government is utilizing all its national and international resources to bring their loved ones home as soon as possible.