Royal Navy deploys HMS Protector to join SAR effort for ARA San Juan

The Royal Navy has deployed its ice patrol ship, HMS Protector (A173) to join the search and rescue (SAR) effort for the Argentine Navy’s diesel-electric submarine, ARA San Juan (S-42), which went missing in the South Atlantic.

According to the statement from the British Embassy in Argentina, the deployment was conducted following a request from the Argentine Government for the SAR support.

The submarine, with 44 crew members on board, was in the southern Argentine Sea, 432 kilometres from the Patagonian coast when it gave its last location two days ago. Among the missing crew is Argentina’s first female submarine officer, Eliana María Krawczyk.

The contact was lost when the submarine was en route from the Ushuaia naval base in the country’s far south to Mar del Plata base, around 400 kilometres southeast of the capital, Buenos Aires.

A NASA P-3 Orion equipped with a magnetometer, gravimeter, and other sensors, was earlier redirected from Operation IceBridge to aid in the search and the United Kingdom offered assistance in the form of a C130 Hercules based in the Falkland Islands. The U.S. Navy was also sending a P-8 currently in El Salvador. A Chilean aircraft is also on its way to join the search.

A Chilean aircraft is also on its way to join the search. Brazil, Uruguay, Peru and South Africa had also formally offered assistance.

HMS Protector (A173)

HMS Protector is an ice patrol ship currently operated by the Royal Navy and built in Norway in 2001.

As MV Polarbjørn (Norwegian: polar bear) she operated under charter as a polar research icebreaker and a subsea support vessel.

From April 2011, she was chartered to the Royal Navy for three years as a temporary replacement for the ice patrol ship, HMS Endurance (A171), and was renamed HMS Protector. In September 2013, the vessel was purchased outright by the British Ministry of Defence.

Protector operates several small boats, including the survey motor boat James Caird IV, the ramped work boat Terra Nova and two Pacific 22 RIBs Nimrod and Aurora. She also embarks three BV206 all-terrain vehicles and a number of quad-bikes and trailers for activities on Antarctica, such as moving stores and equipment.

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