Before the Argentine submarine ARA San Juan disappeared on Nov. 15 with 44 onboard, one of the sailors sent an unusual message to his family.
“On Monday an English helicopter was looking for us and yesterday the Chileans. There is a lot of movement there,” the second sub-officer, Roberto Daniel Medina, wrote on Nov. 4, according to his sister, Jésica Medina.
Roberto told his ten brothers and his sister that he was close to the Falkland Islands and was to return home at the beginning of December, Jésica told Argentine newspaper La Gaceta.
“It was that weird message in which he told us a British helicopter and a Chilean ship were looking for them, but unfortunately we did not continue with that conversation, stopped here. That was the last message,” Jésica said.
The Argentine Navy previously reported an explosion was detected in the area where the submarine disappeared. Even if it survived the explosion, the submarine only had oxygen supplies to last 10 days underwater.
The search for the submarine continues, but is already at a stage “incompatible with human life,” Argentine Navy Admiral Marcelo Srur told Argentine radio Mitre.
The last communications from the submarine came on Nov. 15 between 1 a.m. and 7:36 a.m. The vessel’s commander reported water leaked into the ventilation system through the sub’s snorkel, reached a battery connection tray in the prow, and “caused a short-circuit and the beginning of a fire, or smoke without flame,” said Enrique Balbi, Argentine Navy spokesman, Fox reported.
The captain later reported that the incident had been contained by using an alternative battery circuit, according to an Argentine spokesperson.
Jésica wasn’t sure what Roberto meant by his comments about a British helicopter and a Chilean ship, but said other families also received messages. “I think we’re not the only family that has something like that, I think there are a lot of them,” she said.
Jésica said she didn’t present the messages before because she didn’t feel “capable” but decided to come forward after discussions with her brothers and her parents.
A UK Royal Navy spokesman said Jésica’s “story is completely untrue” adding that Britain doesn’t have any anti-submarine helicopters based in the Falklands, the Mirror reported.
The United States, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Peru, South Africa, Uruguay, and the UK have sent ships or planes to aid in the search for ARA San Juan.
The German-built submarine was commissioned in 1985 and got a $12 million retrofitting in 2014.
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