The U.S. Navy has ordered its Undersea Rescue Command (URC) based in San Diego, Calif., to deploy to Argentina, Nov. 18 to support the ongoing search for the missing Argentine Navy submarine, ARA San Juan (S-42) in the Southern Atlantic.
URC is deploying two independent rescue assets based on a number of factors, including the varying depth of ocean waters near South America’s southeastern coast and the differing safe operating depths of the two rescue systems.
Three U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III and one U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy aircraft will transport the first rescue system, the Submarine Rescue Chamber (SRC) and underwater intervention Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) from Miramar to Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina. The four aircraft are scheduled to depart Miramar Nov. 18 and arrive in Argentina Nov. 19.
The second rescue system, the Pressurized Rescue Module (PRM) and supporting equipment will be transported via additional flights and is scheduled to arrive in Argentina early next week.
The SRC is a McCann rescue chamber designed during World War II and still used today. SRC can rescue up to six persons at a time and reach a bottomed submarine at depths of 850 feet. The PRM can submerge up to 2,000 feet for docking and mating, with a submarine settled on the ocean floor up to 45-degree angle in both pitch and roll. The PRM can rescue up to 16 personnel at a time. Both assets are operated by two crewmembers and mate with the submarine by sealing over the submarine’s hatch allowing Sailors to safely transfer to the rescue chamber.
The URC Sailors deploying with the rescue systems are highly trained on its use and routinely exercise employing the advanced technology in submarine rescue scenarios.
The U.S. government is supporting a request from the government of Argentina for international assistance to the ongoing search for the missing submarine and possible rescue opportunities once the vessel and crew are located.
A U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft and a NASA P-3 research aircraft are already in Argentina assisting ongoing search efforts near the submarine’s last known location.