BUENOS AIRES, January 2. /TASS/. Argentina has not received any notification from Russia concerning termination of its participation in the operation to search for the missing San Juan submarine, Argentine Navy Spokesman Enrique Balbi said on Monday.
"We saw rumors in the media and social networks, which mentioned the middle of January, but to date, we have not been officially informed about the deadlines [for the participation in the operation]," he told the Todo Noticias TV network.
He admitted though that "apparently, international assistance cannot be provided indefinitely." According to Balbi, Argentina will continue searching for the missing submarine after Russia’s participation ends. "We have both the moral obligation and means to at least check the entire shelf with echo sounders and other equipment," he said.
He noted though that Argentina has no equipment for underwater search. Balbi added that, if Argentine vessels find objects resembling the submarine, the country’s authorities will consider the possibility of hiring specialists who will be able to study them.
Contact with the diesel-electric submarine The San Juan, which had 44 crew-members the moment it left Ushuaia port, was lost on November 15. On November 30, the Argentine Navy said the rescue operation had been terminated, but the search for the submarine itself continues.
Russia's ocean survey vessel Yantar and Russian Navy specialists who arrived in Argentina with the Pantera Plus unmanned submersible are involved in efforts to search for the missing submarine. The operation also involved vessels from Brazil, Chile, the United States and the UK. They have been withdrawn from the search area now.