One day after the first anniversary of its disappearance on November 15, 2017, the missing ARA San Juan submarine has been found.
The stunning news, which has been confirmed by the Defence Ministry, the Navy and the US firm leading the search for the vessel, arrived in the early hours of Saturday morning.
On Thursday, Ocean Infinity – the North American company that was set to suspend its search just 48 hours ago – confirmed that an object, approximately 60 metres long, had been discovered at a depth of 800 metres.
After heading to the site with its vessel, Seabed Constructor, to investigate, the company says it positively identified the object as the ARA San Juan. The Defence Ministry and the Navy confirmed the news via Twitter.
#MinisterioDeDefensa and the #ArmadaArgentina report that on this day, having investigated the point of interest No. 24 reported by Ocean Infinity, through observation made with a ROV at 800 metres deep, the #AraSanJuan has been positively identified," a post read.
The family members were notified before the news was made public.
One year, one day
The San Juan, a German-built TR-1700 class submarine, vanished almost exactly one year ago as it was sailing from the southernmost port of Ushuaia to Mar del Plata after a patrol.
A massive air and sea search began 48 hours later involving units from 13 countries, but the majority withdrew before the end of 2017, with the missing submarine no closer to being found.
All the while, relatives and family members of the missing 44 crew-members pressured the Navy, the Defence Ministry and the Cabinet to continue the search.
The Navy has been fiercely criticised for its handling of the operation since first reporting the submarine overdue at Mar del Plata on November 16.
It was only several days into the tragedy that Navy officials acknowledged the old, German-built submarine had reported a problem with its batteries in its final communication on November 15. And nearly 10 days later, Navy officials confirmed there had been an explosion on board, which experts said was likely linked to the battery problem.
Several senior officers were dismissed, including Navy chief Marcelo Srur, and many of the families have expressed anger and disappointment at the government's efforts to find their missing relatives.
Ocean Infinity signed a US$7.5-million contract with the government to search for the vessel for at least 60 days. However, the firm would only receive the money if the ARA San Juan was found.
The firm began its search on September 8.
The government will now have to investigate whether the submarine can be raised from its current resting place.