Dec. 1 (UPI) — Argentina called off the rescue operation for a missing submarine after 15 days, but will continue to search for the vessel.
Navy Capt. Enrique Balbi said the search for the 44 crew members has ended after it “extended for more than twice what is estimated for a rescue” but the search for the ARA San Juan submarine will continue in waters more than 1,600 feet deep.
“No one will be rescued,” Balbi said.
The Argentine navy described an “anomalous, short, violent,” explosion near where the submarine went missing, prompting many to fear the crew had died.
The crew had about seven to 10 days worth of oxygen to survive on the submarine if the vessel remained intact.
The final message from the submarine reported a leak of seawater and the beginnings of a battery fire, but navy Adm. Gabriel Gonzalez said he didn’t consider the incident an emergency.
The navy said it followed protocol while looking for the submarine, despite waiting two days after lost contact to begin the search.
Family members of the crew accused the navy of initially withholding information about the submarine and blamed officials for not reporting the news as soon as communication with the vessel was lost.
Others questioned the decision to send the 34-year-old submarine on the the southern naval base of Ushuaia to Mar del Plata in the north.