Russia has deployed its oceanographic research ship, Yantar, to support the search of the missing Argentine Navy submarine, ARA San Juan as the operation shifted focus from rescue to recovery.
The Russian defense ministry said the Yantar is steaming to the area from the western coast of Africa on the orders of President Vladimir Putin.
Russia said the Yantar “is equipped with two deep water submersibles which allow exploratory searches at a depth of up to 6,000 meters.”
San Juan, with 44 crew members on board, was in the southern Argentine Sea, 432 kilometres from the Patagonian coast when it gave its last location on Nov. 15. 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.
Argentina is leading an air-and-sea search with help from several countries including Brazil, Britain, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Peru, Russia, the United States and Uruguay.
Yantar is a special purpose intelligence ship operated by the Russian Navy’s Main Directorate of Underwater Research since 2015. The vessel is homeported at Severomorsk, where it is attached to the Northern Fleet.
The ship is alleged to a spy ship but is designated as an oceanographic research ship by the Russian Navy. The U.S. Navy has stated that the submersibles are able to sever cables miles beneath the ocean’s surface.
The Yantar was designed by the CMDB Almaz Design Bureau (design #22010), in St. Petersburg, and the hull was laid down on July 8, 2010. It was launched in December 2010, and concluded its sea trials in 2015. It was constructed at the Yantar Shipyard in Kaliningrad.
It has a length of 108 meters and a displacement of 5,320 tons. It uses diesel-electric propulsion for a top speed of approximately 15 knots. It officially has a crew of 50.
The Yantar can act as a mothership to mini-subs. The submersibles are reportedly a Konsul-class submersible and a pr.16810 Rus-class submersible. They are reportedly capable of operating at depths of up to 6,000 meters.