As days, then weeks passed with no contact from the ARA San Juan submarine, Argentines began to accept the fact that what had once been an aging staple of the nation’s naval fleet had been suddenly and tragically transformed into a 60-meter-long metal tomb.
But as the nation mourned the anniversary of the San Juan’s disappearance Thursday, painful questions lingered: What horrible tragedy had befallen the submarine? And, most importantly, would the craft and the bodies of the 44 sailors aboard ever be recovered?
In a bittersweet announcement Saturday, authorities said they may soon have answers to those twin mysteries. The San Juan has been found nearly 3,000 feet beneath the ocean’s surface in waters off the Valdes Peninsula in Argentine Patagonia, according to the Associated Press.
Argentine Defense Minister Oscar Aguad later said the government lacked the proper technology to recover the submarine, adding that officials still need to determine next steps, the AP said.
Almost exactly a year ago, the diesel-electric ARA San Juan was returning to its base south of Buenos Aires after a routine mission to Ushuaia, near the southern tip of South America, the Argentine Navy said.
Then, suddenly, it went silent.