ARA San Juan (S-42) Information

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ARA San Juan (S-42) in 2007
Name: San Juan
Namesake: San Juan Province, Argentina
Builder: Thyssen Nordseewerke, Emden, West Germany
Yard number: 465
Completed: 28 June 1983
Commissioned: 19 November 1985
Out of service: 15 November 2017
Refit: 2014
Struck: 2017
Homeport: Mar del Plata
Identification: Pennant number S-42
Fate: Imploded; Sunk in the Atlantic Ocean [1]
General characteristics
Class and type: TR-1700-class submarine
  • 2,140 tonnes (surfaced)
  • 2,336 tonnes (submerged)
Length: 67.30 m (220.8 ft)
Beam: 8.36 m (27.4 ft)
Draught: 7.34 m (24.1 ft)
  • 1 shaft 4 × MTU diesels
  • 1 × Siemens electric motor
  • 15 knots (28 km/h) surfaced
  • 25 knots (46 km/h) submerged
Range: 12,000 nmi (22,000 km) at 8 kn (15 km/h) surfaced
Endurance: 30 days
Test depth: 300 m (980 ft)
Complement: 37
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • 6 × 533 mm (21 in) bow torpedo tubes
  • 22 torpedoes

ARA San Juan (S-42) was a TR-1700-class diesel-electric submarine in service with the Submarine Force of the Argentine Navy from 1986 to 2017. It was built in West Germany and entered service on 19 November 1985, and it underwent a mid-life update from 2008 to 2013.

On 15 November 2017, San Juan went missing during a routine patrol in the South Atlantic off the coast of Argentina, believed to have suffered an electrical malfunction, and a multi-nation search operation was mounted. Within hours of San Juan's last transmission, an acoustic anomaly consistent with an implosion was detected in the vicinity of the vessel's last known location. On 30 November, the search and rescue operation was abandoned.

The Argentine Navy reported on 16 November 2018 that the wreck of San Juan had been found at a depth of 907 metres (2,976 ft), 460 kilometres (290 mi) southeast of Comodoro Rivadavia. [2] The submarine’s imploded wreckage was strewn over an area of 8,000 square metres (86,000 sq ft). [3] [4]


Built by Thyssen Nordseewerke, [5] [6] San Juan was laid down on 18 March 1982 and launched on 20 June 1983. It had a single- hull design, with a lightweight bow and stern and a watertight superstructure in the central part. Her sister vessel, ARA Santa Cruz, is the only other one of her type, though the program originally sought to produce a larger number of submarines. [7]


The submarine's name derives from the province of San Juan; the names of all Argentine submarines begin with the letter S. Past ships with the same name are a destroyer (1911), a surveyor (1929), and a torpedo boat (1937). [8]

The prefix ARA is the acronym of the Argentine Navy in Spanish (Spanish: Armada de la República Argentina). [9] [10]

Operational history

The submarine entered service on 18 November 1985. [11]

In 1994, during the FleetEx 2/94 "George Washington" exercise with the United States Navy, San Juan avoided detection by United States anti-submarine forces for the entire duration of the war game, penetrating the destroyer defense and "sinking" the command ship USS Mount Whitney. [12] [13] The submarine has taken part in other exercises including Gringo-Gaucho and UNITAS. [11]

The vessel underwent a mid-life update between 2008 and 2013, taking longer than expected due to budget constraints. [14] [15] The upgrade cost around 100 million pesos (US$12.4 million) and comprised more than 500,000 work hours during which the submarine was cut in half and had her four MTU engines and batteries replaced. [16] The updates were carried out at the Argentine Industrial Naval Complex's (CINAR) Tandanor and Storni shipyards. [7] Later, San Juan was tasked with carrying out surveillance exercises in the exclusive economic zone around Puerto Madryn, particularly in the role of combating illegal fishing. [17]


Location of departure and destination ports
Comodoro Rivadavia
Comodoro Rivadavia
Mar del Plata
Mar del Plata
Location of the wreck [18]

On 17 November 2017, it was announced that San Juan had not been heard from since 15 November when the vessel was 430 kilometres (270 mi) from the coast, off San Jorge Gulf on its way to Mar del Plata from Ushuaia following a military exercise, and that a search and rescue operation had been launched in the same area. [19] [20] [21] [22] There were 44 servicemen on board the missing submarine, [23] including Argentina's first female submarine officer, Eliana María Krawczyk. [24] The submarine carried oxygen for no more than seven days when submerged. [25] [24]


The search and rescue operation was carried out under the auspices of the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office, an organisation of over 40 countries set up in 2003 [26] following the Kursk submarine disaster. [27] The search area was 482,507 square kilometres (186,297 sq mi) in size [28] and weather conditions throughout the search and rescue period changed, making the task far more difficult on days with large waves and high winds. [29] [30] On 23 November the Argentine Navy said an event consistent with an implosion had been detected [31] at 46°07′S 59°41′W / 46.12°S 59.69°W / -46.12; -59.69 [32] by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization listening posts on Ascension Island and Crozet Islands on the day the submarine stopped communicating. [33] [31] [34] [35]

By 24 November, the search and rescue operation involved more than 30 aircraft and ships from Argentina, the United Kingdom, Brazil, the United States, Chile and other countries. In all, more than 4,000 personnel from 13 countries assisted the search, scouring an area the size of Spain. [36]

On 27 November, it was revealed to the press that according to the submarine's last report from 15 November, San Juan's snorkel had leaked water into the forward storage batteries the day before, which ignited a fire. After quenching the fire, the crew disconnected the forward batteries. The submarine continued to move powered by the aft batteries. [37]

On 30 November, 15 days after San Juan went missing, the Navy declared that the rescue phase of the operation was over, but the search for the submarine on the seabed would be continuing. [1] The loss of 44 crewmen constitutes the largest loss of life aboard a submarine since the Chinese submarine 361 malfunctioned in April 2003, [38] surpassing the K-152 Nerpa accident of 2008. A criminal investigation was launched into the disappearance. [3]

Wreck discovery

On 16 November 2018, ARA San Juan was found at a depth of 907 metres (2,976 ft), at 45°56′59″S 59°46′22″W / 45.94972°S 59.77278°W / -45.94972; -59.77278 [18] (20 km or 12 mi NNW from the seismic anomaly previously reported by the CTBTO) and nearly 270 nautical miles (500 km; 310 mi) from Comodoro Rivadavia, by a remote submersible operated by the Norwegian ship Seabed Constructor of the company Ocean Infinity, a private maritime company hired by the Argentine government. [39] [40]

It had been considered that the probability of locating the wreck in the area where it was eventually found was 90%, but previous searches failed to find it due to insufficient technology and presence of numerous submarine canyons. [41] A "hydro-acoustic anomaly" consistent with an implosion had been detected 30 nautical miles (56 km; 35 mi) north of the submarine's last known position at 10:31 ART (13:31 UTC) on 15 November 2017. Photographs were released showing the shattered remains of the submarine broken up on the seabed. Ocean Infinity will receive a reward of US$7.5 million for finding the missing vessel. [3] [4] Argentine Navy spokesman Captain Jorge Balbi presented close-up photos of the wreck in a press briefing. The pictures show the imploded pressure hull, with the bow section, sail and propellers scattered in an area of 8,000 square metres (86,000 sq ft). [42] [43]


See also


  1. ^ a b "Submarino ARA San Juan: la Armada dio por finalizado el operativo de rescate y ya no busca sobrevivientes". La Nacion (in Spanish). 30 November 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Ocean Infinity Locates the Missing Argentinian Submarine, ARA San Juan". Ocean Infinity. 17 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Argentine submarine: Missing ARA San Juan imploded, navy confirms". BBC News. 17 November 2018. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b Politi, Daniel (17 November 2018). "Argentine Submarine That Vanished With 44 Aboard Is Found, Navy Says". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  5. ^ Latinoamericana, Comunidad Submarinista. "Reparación de Media Vida Submarino Tipo TR1700 ARA San Juan S-42 (Segunda Parte)". Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  6. ^ Miller, David (2002). The Illustrated Directory of Submarines. Zenith Press. p. 480. ISBN  0-7603-1345-8.
  7. ^ a b Castro, Pablo (5 March 2009). "Reparación de Media Vida Submarino Tipo TR1700 ARA San Juan S-42 (Primera Parte)". (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Por qué se llama San Juan el submarino que es intensamente buscado". Diario de Cuyo. 17 November 2017. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  9. ^ F. A. Buttress; H. J. Heaney (6 December 2012). World Guide to Abbreviations of Organizations. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 104. ISBN  978-1-4684-8742-8.
  10. ^ A. Donaghy (2 September 2014). The British Government and the Falkland Islands, 1974-79. Palgrave Macmillan UK. p. 10. ISBN  978-1-137-32956-1.
  11. ^ a b Latinoamericana, Comunidad Submarinista. "Submarino Argentino ARA San Juan vuelve a estar en el agua". (in Spanish) (2 July 2014). Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  12. ^ "El día que el ARA San Juan sorprendió a la Armada de Estados Unidos". La Nacion. 22 November 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  13. ^ Latinoamericana, Comunidad Submarinista (8 December 2014). "Ejercicio Fleetex 2/94 "George Washington"". (in Spanish). Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  14. ^ Kiernan, Sergio (3 August 2014). "El arte de reparar submarinos". Pagina 12 (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  15. ^ Piñeiro, Luis (20 September 2016). "Comienza en Argentina la modernización del submarino TR-1700 ARA Santa Cruz-noticia". Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  16. ^ "Argentine Navy receives refurbished TR1700 class submarine ARA San Juan". MercoPress. 19 June 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  17. ^ Morales, Fernando (17 November 2017). "Cómo es el submarino ARA San Juan que es intensamente buscado". Infobae (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  18. ^ a b "ARA San Juan: el clima adverso le dio dramatismo a un hallazgo con el último aliento". La Nacion. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  19. ^ "Argentine navy loses contact with submarine". BBC. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  20. ^ "Operaciones integradas del Comando de Adiestramiento y Alistamiento | Gaceta Marinera". (in Spanish). 6 November 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  21. ^ "La Flota de Mar despliega su esplendor en Ushuaia". Zona Militar (in Spanish). 7 November 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  22. ^ "Desapareció un submarino argentino y se desplegó un operativo de rescate" (in Spanish). La Nacion. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  23. ^ Melgar, Ana; Gallón, Natalie & Hanna, Jason. "Argentine navy says its lost contact with submarine". CNN. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  24. ^ a b Politi, Daniel & Londoño, Ernesto (17 November 2017). "Search Underway for Argentine Navy Submarine With 44". New York Times. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  25. ^ Uki Goñi (20 November 2017). "Missing Argentinian submarine running out of air as search enters 'critical phase'". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  26. ^ "An officer of Italian Navy at the head of ISMERLO". Marina Militare. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  27. ^ "Qué es Ismerlo, el sistema internacional que alertó al mundo sobre el ARA San Juan". La Nacion. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  28. ^ "Submarino ARA San Juan: qué se sabe hasta ahora sobre su desaparición y la búsqueda para encontrarlo". La Nacion. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  29. ^ "Con las mejoras meteorológicas, se intensifica la búsqueda del submarino". Telam. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  30. ^ "El fuerte viento demora el operativo y complica las tareas de rescate". La Nacion (in Spanish). 26 November 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  31. ^ a b "'Explosion' dashes sub crew survival hopes". 23 November 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2017 – via
  32. ^ "Exclusivo: detalles del informe que recibió el Gobierno sobre la explosión en el submarino ARA San Juan". InfoBAE. InfoBAE. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  33. ^ "Submarino ARA San Juan: cómo se detectó la explosión y qué podría significar". La Nacion. 23 November 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  34. ^ "Vocero de la Armada: "Hubo un evento singular consistente con una explosión" en el ARA San Juan". Telam. 23 November 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  35. ^ "Búsqueda del ARA San Juan: cómo se detectó la explosión y por qué se conoció una semana después". Infobae (in Spanish). 23 November 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  36. ^ "U.S. Navy plane scours South Atlantic in search for Argentine sub". 24 November 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017 – via Reuters.
  37. ^ "Submarino ARA San Juan: cómo fue el principio de incendio en las baterías" (in Spanish). Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  38. ^ Politi, Daniel; Londoño, Ernesto (30 November 2017). "Hope for Argentina Submarine Crew Fades". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  39. ^ "Ocean Infinity Locates the Missing Argentinian Submarine, ARA San Juan". Ocean Infinity. 17 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  40. ^ "ARA San Juan: Search locates 5 objects with potential links to missing sub". Buenos Aires Times. 14 September 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  41. ^ "Argentina minister says country without means to rescue submarine". Toronto Star. 17 November 2018. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  42. ^ Rogoway, Tyler. "Argentina's Lost Submarine Has Finally Been Found (Updated)". The Drive. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  43. ^ "La Armada Argentina dice que el submarino San Juan implosionó y se partió en varias partes" [Argentine Navy says that the submarine San Juan imploded and broke into several pieces]. (in Spanish). 17 November 2018. Retrieved 17 November 2018.

Further reading

External links

ARA SAN JUAN (S-42) Latitude and Longitude:

45°56′59″S 59°46′22″W / 45.94972°S 59.77278°W / -45.94972; -59.77278