BUENOS AIRES – The Argentine Navy detected on Saturday seven satellite calls made to different Navy bases from the ARA San Juan submarine, which disappeared on Nov. 15 in the South Atlantic with 44 crew members on board, but that these calls “did not manage to establish contact,” official sources said.
According to a statement released Saturday by the Argentine Ministry of Defense, the calls did not link up with the Navy bases, but could indicate that the crew is trying to re-establish contact.
“With the collaboration of a US company specializing in satellite communication, we are now working to determine the precise location of the transmitter of the signals, given the presumption that it could be the submarine carrying 44 crew members on board,” the statement reads.
The calls were made between 10:52 local time (1352 GMT) and 15:42 (1842 GMT) and now the government is working to determine their exact location.
The communication attempts lasted between 4 and 36 seconds.
The last known position of the ARA San Juan was in the area of the San Jorge Gulf in southern Patagonia and some 240 nautical miles (432 km) from the coast, the ministry said.
The last submarine report was received in the early morning of Nov. 15, and after no further communication from the ship was received, a search protocol was activated late Nov. 16 afternoon.
The German built, diesel powered submarine had left the southern port of Ushuaia on Nov. 13 and was heading back to his base in Mar del Plata, near Buenos Aires.
Argentine Defense Minister Oscar Aguad leads the search operation after his return from Vancouver, Canada, where he participated in a UN meeting and meeting the families of the crew members at the naval base in Mar del Plata.
The search and rescue operation, which is led by the Argentine Navy, is aided by an US NASA P-3 anti-submarine aircraft, as well as numerous Navy ships with helicopters on board.
All terrestrial communications stations along the Argentine coast were ordered to search for communications and listen to all possible frequencies of transmission of the submarine in order to make a contact.
President Mauricio Macri said on his Twitter account on Saturday that his government is committed to using “all national and international resources” to locate “as soon as possible” the 44 crew members of the ship.