BUENOS AIRES – The Russian oceanographic vessel Yantar continued on Sunday with the search operation for the Argentine navy’s ARA San Juan submarine, which disappeared on Nov. 15 in the South Atlantic, authorities said.
The Argentine navy said in a statement both the Yantar and Argentine destroyer Sarandi were continuing to participate in the search.
The Argentine navy tug Islas Malvinas arrived at the naval base at the far-southern city of Ushuaia to be relieved by the Puerto Argentino, another Argentine navy vessel.
The Puerto Argentina will set sail for the delineated search area off the Argentina coast once Russia’s Panther Plus remote-controlled undersea exploration vehicle, which has already been used in the search, is loaded on board.
A few days ago, relatives of the sub’s 44 crewmembers sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking that his country not withdraw the support it has provided for the search.
“We want to express our thanks for all the support provided to the Argentine navy with all your underwater inspection and rescue technology, providing every cooperation via your search and rescue vessel ... and to ask you not to withdraw your help as long as the ARA San Juan remains unfound,” the message read.
The relatives sent the letter after Argentine navy spokesman Enrique Balbi announced last Tuesday that authorities were analyzing the possibility of hiring private undersea search services if Russia, the only foreign government currently helping in the search for the missing sub, were to withdraw the Yantar along with the Panther Plus.
The US oceanographic vessel Atlantis abandoned the search 10 days ago to continue with the tasks it was carrying out before the disappearance of the ARA San Juan, although not before sweeping the huge designated undersea search zone twice.