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Russian oceanographic research ship arrives in San Juan submarine search zone

December 06, 7:09 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The vessel serves as a mother ship for advanced mini-subs, which can carry out research missions at great depths

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MOSCOW, December 6. /TASS/. The Russian Navy’s Yantar oceanographic research vessel has arrived to the area where the missing Argentine submarine San Juan might have sunk, the Russian Defense Ministry’s Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper said on Wednesday.

The paper quoted head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Main Directorate for Deepwater Research Aleksei Burilichev as saying that the vessel serves as a mother ship for advanced mini-subs, which can carry out research missions at great depths.

Meanwhile, Sergei Bashmakov, who heads a group of Russian military rescuers taking part in the search, said the Islas Malvinas vessel, equipped with Russian submersibles, had to suspend its search effort due to unfavorable weather.

"With wind and rough seas reaching 3-4 points [on the international sea state code scale], remote-controlled unmanned submersibles are unable to perform diving missions from the Argentine Navy’s Islas Malvinas vessel," Bashmakov said.

"The survey of the seabed by the remote-controlled submersibles of the Russian Navy, designed to locate and classify underwater objects, will continue when weather conditions in the search area improve," he continued.

According to the official, Russian specialists have so far conducted six diving missions to depths ranging between 125 and 970 meters, but were unable to locate the missing submarine.

ARA San Juan, a diesel-electric powered submarine with a 44-strong crew aboard, stopped responding to radio communications on November 15. The Argentine Navy said an intensive search for it began in the night hours of November 16. A search and rescue operation was launched on the following day. The Argentine Navy announced the end of the rescue operation on November 30, saying there was no hope of finding any of the crew alive.

The Russian Defense Ministry earlier reported that upon the instruction from President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Army General Sergey Shoigu had ordered to dispatch a group of experts from the Navy’s 328th expedition search and rescue unit to Argentina along with the Pantera Plus unmanned submersible, as well as the Russian Navy’s Yantar oceanographic research vessel. The Pantera Plus submersible made its first dive in the search zone on December 3.

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