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A New Hope: Russia Offers Assistance in Search for Missing Argentinian Submarine

© REUTERS / Armada Argentina/HandoutThe Argentine military submarine ARA San Juan and crew are seen leaving the port of Buenos Aires, Argentina June 2, 2014
The Argentine military submarine ARA San Juan and crew are seen leaving the port of Buenos Aires, Argentina June 2, 2014 - Sputnik International
The ARA San Juan, carrying a crew of 44, lost contact with its command on November 15 following reports of a mechanical failure. A large-scale search and rescue operation was launched in the area where the submarine could likely be.

MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) — Earlier, the Argentinian army spokesman said that the vessel was designed to survive autonomously for seven days, which meant it could have oxygen until Wednesday.

At this juncture, the rescue operation of missing Argentinian submarine ARA San Juan has entered a critical phase due to a possible lack of oxygen on board, Enrique Balbi, spokesman of the country’s Navy, said Wednesday.

"There are still no traces of the submarine. The critical phase continues because of the situation with oxygen," Balbi said as quoted by Telam agency.

In addition, he has urged the relatives of the submarine crew not to give up hope and said that the large-scale rescue operation is continuing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered assistance in the search for the missing Argentinian submarine San Juan, the Kremlin's press service said in a statement.

"During the phone conversation Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed words of support to the Argentina's President Mauricio Macri in the wake of the situation around the San Juan submarine missing in the Atlantic Ocean… [Putin] offered to provide assistance in a search and rescue operation, [the leaders] agreed to maintain contacts on the issue between countries' defense ministries," the statement said, following a Wednesday phone conversation between Vladimir Putin and his Argentinian counterpart Mauricio Macri.

Earlier on in the day, Argentinian Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie welcomed Putin's helping hand, stressing that Russia has "impressive experience" regarding this issue.

According to media reports, the foul weather conditions with high winds and waves up to seven meters high in the South Atlantic search zone are currently hampering the rescue mission. 

The Defense Ministry of Argentina has said that the last distress signals they believe may have come from the ARA San Juan were detected by satellites on Sunday. However, the Argentinian Navy Command failed to establish a connection with the submarine and could not locate the precise area of the source sending the emergency calls.

A crew member of the Argentine military submarine ARA San Juan stands on the vessel at the port of Buenos Aires, Argentina June 2, 2014 - Sputnik International
No Calls From Missing Argentinian Submarine Since Wednesday
Argentinian authorities have said that over 4,000 personnel with nearly 30 boats and planes from 12 countries, including the United States, Chile, Brazil and the United Kingdom, were scouring a vast area (500,000 square kilometers (190,000 square miles) where the submarine could possibly be located.

ARA San Juan, which is 66 meters long, has a diesel-electric vessel that underwent a complex repair and engineering work in 2008, was constructed in Germany in 1985 and joined the Argentinian Navy a year later.

Currently, Argentinian Navy officials have come up with three possible reasons behind the disappearance.

“We’re considering three scenarios: the submarine is above the surface with its engines running, adrift at sea without propulsion or submerged on the bottom of the ocean,” Argentinian Navy spokesman Captain Enrique Balbi told reporters on Wednesday morning.

The Argentinian Navy is also analyzing a sound that was detected near where the ARA San Juan submarine went missing in the South Atlantic a week ago, the spokesman said late on Wednesday.

"A hydroacoustic anomaly reported officially by a specialized US agency is being analyzed," Enrique Blabi was quoted as saying on the Navy’s Twitter feed.

Meantime, Vladimir Putin has confirmed his readiness to support the Argentinian rescue mission by deploying a Russian high-tech oceanographic vessel to the search area promptly as the time is reportedly running short to find the crew alive.

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