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Argentine commission reveals cause of ARA San Juan submarine wreck

Christian Fernsby |
An Argentine legislative commission released its findings Thursday on the cause of the sinking of a submarine in the Atlantic Ocean in 2017.

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It said on the night before the ARA San Juan disappeared, water entered its ventilation system and caused a fire in one of its battery tanks. The vessel surfaced and continued sailing.

The captain reported that he was ready to descend to 40 meters (131 feet) to assess the damage and reconnect the batteries the next day, but nothing more was heard from the submarine.

The ARA San Juan disappeared on Nov. 15, 2017 in the South Atlantic as it was returning to its base at the port of Mer del Plata after taking part in a training exercise.

The wreckage was found almost a year later at a depth of 800 meters (2,625 feet) east of Patagonia’s Valdes Peninsula.

The legislators also questioned the handling of the crisis by Defense Minister Oscar Aguad and President Mauricio Macri, who showed “a low level of involvement with everything related to the tragedy”.

The commission concluded that the cause of the sinking was due to the inefficiency of navy high command and budget limitations in recent years which contributed to the disaster, citing the “failure to update technologies and maintain a minimum level of maintenance” which caused a “growing deterioration” of the submarine.

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