Reversing a decision by the firm in charge of the search for the ARA San Juan, the Navy said this afternoon it had asked the company executives of Ocean Infinity to continue the hunt for the missing submarine.
Just hours after the families of the 44 crew-members announced that the search had been suspended until February, a Navy statement said it had agreed with the company to continue "in compliance with the contract."
A statement from the relatives said the management of Ocean Infinity was to suspend operations at sea until February, taking the data it had collected on land in order to study the firm's next move. Pressure from the Navy, however, seems to have reversed that decision.
"Given the request from the company Ocean Infinity to suspend operations temporarily, [the Navy] has coordinated with it the continuity of the search in compliance with the current contract," a statement from the Navy said.
A contract signed by Ocean Infinity and the government that laid out the terms of their agreement said the search would last at least 60 days, of which 40 have been completed so far.
In a brief statement released at 11am this Friday morning, signed by the "Families of the crew of ARA San Juan," the relatives said they had been informed by the "company's management" that the search has been halted for now.
"We were informed that the company's management determined yesterday to suspend the search until February. According to the statement, it is useless to continue expanding [search] areas, so they will conduct a detailed study on land of all the data collected to then determine how they continue and for how long," read the statement.
Family members expressed surprise over the news, saying they "did not expect" the firm in charge of the search, Ocean Infinity, to end the hunt.
"We just found out about this. We did not expect the company to retire, " said Isabel Polo, a sister of one of the missing crew-members, to the C5N news channel.
Polo said the families would ask "the company to comply with the 60 days of search" it had committed itself too.
"This can be added to the treatment we have received from the government from day one until today," she said.