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Thread: Lost, or not lost. The Argentinian submarine.

  1. #1
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    Lost, or not lost. The Argentinian submarine.

    This article on the BBC news site relates to a submarine that has lost contact with the naval authorities. I report it for the beautiful and amusing logic from a naval spokesman explaining the situation.

    "It's not that it's lost," he said. "For it to be lost we'd have to look for it and not find it."

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    This is actually quite serious.

    And probably a translation issue for the quote.
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    I don't have a problem with the Argentine naval spokeman's statement. As I understand it from reading reports, the navy think's the sub has a communication problem but is probably proceeding as planned. It's not 'lost'.

    Reminds me of when my wife can't find her glasses. I don't consider them lost until I look for them.

    BTW, someone on a Facebook submarine group posted a link to a Spanish-language article which apparently says the sub has indeed just suffered a communications failure. I say 'apparently' because I don't read Spanish and I couldn't find an English article to corroborate.

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    Lost, or not lost. The Argentinian submarine.

    Apparently a fire on board knocked out communications. Definitely not good:

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/17/americ...ing/index.html

    And from the Guardian which mentions the fire:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...st-40-on-board

    ETA: Only the Guardian is mentioning a fire, and that from “local media”. So....big grain of salt.

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    Last edited by schlaugh; 2017-Nov-17 at 07:17 PM.

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    Yeah, it's the difference between not hearing from someone at the appointed time, and starting to worry that something has happened to them. The worry usually follows some time after the lack of comms, the time period depending on circumstances. (My mother is the only person I know who used a negative time interval in this sort of setting - she would start worrying that something had happened before the appointed time for contact.

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    It also has to do with what 'lost' means to a navy. To say a ship or submarine is lost is to say it is sunk. Until it has been confirmed or the search has been abandoned, a navy would declare the vessel to be missing or overdue, not lost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Yeah, it's the difference between not hearing from someone at the appointed time, and starting to worry that something has happened to them. The worry usually follows some time after the lack of comms, the time period depending on circumstances. (My mother is the only person I know who used a negative time interval in this sort of setting - she would start worrying that something had happened before the appointed time for contact.

    Grant Hutchison
    Presumably while you were out "climbing" some Scottish "mountain". Yes, I've read your books.

    On the serious side, a bad situation. Hope they're just out of communication and will be located soon.
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    A good fire to knock out the entire comms of a military ship.
    Well to knock out the entire comms of any ship is serious. To be SOLAS compliant there should be two independent radio systems.
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    Quote Originally Posted by geonuc View Post
    It also has to do with what 'lost' means to a navy. To say a ship or submarine is lost is to say it is sunk. Until it has been confirmed or the search has been abandoned, a navy would declare the vessel to be missing or overdue, not lost.
    Yes, "The state of being foundered or cast away; said of a ship when she has either sunk, or been beaten to pieces by the violence of the sea", as Admiral WH Smyth has it. That was pretty much what my mother worried about - that I had either sunk or been beaten to pieces. She certainly never worried that I'd be lost, in the sense of unsure of my position - that pretty much never happens in our family.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Presumably while you were out "climbing" some Scottish "mountain". Yes, I've read your books.
    Oooh. Aggressive use of scare quotes.
    Actually, my parents were happy for me to disappear into the hills for the day when I was thirteen. It was nights on the town when I was eighteen that used to bring thoughts of death and maiming dancing into their minds. A Scottish town centre on a Saturday night brings more opportunities for injury than the Scottish mountains do.

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    Others have joined the search
    A NASA research aircraft has joined in the search for a missing Argentine submarine and its crew of 44 and a U.S. Navy sub-hunting aircraft is on the way.

    A NASA P-3 Orion is now looking for the diesel-electric attack boat ARA San Juan (S-42), which has not been heard from since Wednesday, according to press reports from the region. Late Friday, U.S. Southern Command announced a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon left the Compalapa Air Base in El Salvador to join the search.

    “U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) directed the U.S. Navy to deploy a P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft to Bahia Blanca, Argentina, Nov. 18 to support the South American nation’s ongoing search for the submarine A.R.A. San Juan in the waters of the Southern Atlantic,” read a late Friday statement from U.S. Southern Command.

    ...

    In addition to NASA’s P-3 and the Navy’s P-8, the Argentine Armada has dispatched destroyer ARA Sarandí (D-13), and corvettes ARA Rosales (P-42) and ARA Drummond (P-31).
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Oooh. Aggressive use of scare quotes.

    Grant Hutchison
    Sorry!

    As to the sub, at this point I'm guessing "lost".

    I actually looked up the Argentine Navy in the past year, simply out of my interest in naval history. It didn't sound like they were in very good shape due to the country's economic tribulations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Sorry!
    No worries - I hope the smiley showed I wasn't taking it seriously. (I self-identify as a "hill-walker", not a mountain climber.)

    I see the UK has offered a C130 from the Falklands to help with the search for the submarine. That's a pleasing change from the last time a British aircraft had to go looking for an Argentinian submarine in that area.

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  14. #14
    so the sub is incognito.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eclogite View Post
    [URL="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-42030560"]I report it for the beautiful and amusing logic from a naval spokesman explaining the situation.

    "It's not that it's lost," he said. "For it to be lost we'd have to look for it and not find it."
    I seem to have missed that quote in the article.

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    Apparently the Argentines navy has received some transmissions from the sub, which is a good sign.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    I seem to have missed that quote in the article.
    Indeed. So, coincident with the submarine being found it seems the quote is lost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Apparently the Argentines navy has received some transmissions from the sub, which is a good sign.
    From what I understand it is still only "possibly" a good sign. The transmissions might be from the emergency beacon - EPIRB. "But submarines that are stricken underwater can float a location beacon known as an EPIRB to the surface that can then emit emergency signals via satellite." http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-1...marine/9166324

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    [url]Argentina navy: Missing sub 'had called to report breakdown' - BBC Newshttps://apple.news/ACwm8Pc-ySbuPwvzW5QC_Sw[url]



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    Sunk by an explosion?

    "Investigators fear an explosion sank missing Argentine submarine: Rescuers rush to investigate 'hydroacoustic anomaly' which was heard by the US Navy just three hours after the captain's last radio message"

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...submarine.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by wd40 View Post
    Sunk by an explosion?

    "Investigators fear an explosion sank missing Argentine submarine: Rescuers rush to investigate 'hydroacoustic anomaly' which was heard by the US Navy just three hours after the captain's last radio message"
    Honestly speaking, I think this is what will be shown to have happened. The sub apparently reported battery problems. If a catastrophic fire then started, leading to a fuel explosion, the sub might have gone right down, with no subsequent contact.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Honestly speaking, I think this is what will be shown to have happened. The sub apparently reported battery problems. If a catastrophic fire then started, leading to a fuel explosion, the sub might have gone right down, with no subsequent contact.
    More likely the batteries themselves exploded.

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    Anyone know what type of batteries it has? Lead-Acid can produce hydrogen.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Anyone know what type of batteries it has? Lead-Acid can produce hydrogen.
    That's what I meant when I said more likely the batteries exploded. They are lead-acid and can produce copious quantities of hydrogen.

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    Another possibility in the event of a fire could be torpedo warheads cooking off. If I am not mistaken, that is what happened to the Kursk. Either way, this suggests multiple procedural faults, as is often the case with accidents such as this. Battery-powered propulsion and torpedoes have been around for over a century, and with them are rigorous procedures to make operation as safe as possible.

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    The Argentine navy has declared the submarine and it's crew lost. RIP.

    ETA: from what I'm reading, apparently the analysis of last week's 'acoustic anomaly' concluded that it was the sound of the submarine imploding as it sank.

    ETA: Upon reading the Google tranlstion of the report, they did not say 'imploding'. Rather, the sound was an underwater explosion. A fault and subsequent explosion with the batteries is still suspected.

    http://www.diariodenautica.com/notic...-san-juan.html
    Last edited by geonuc; 2017-Nov-23 at 06:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    Another possibility in the event of a fire could be torpedo warheads cooking off. If I am not mistaken, that is what happened to the Kursk. Either way, this suggests multiple procedural faults, as is often the case with accidents such as this. Battery-powered propulsion and torpedoes have been around for over a century, and with them are rigorous procedures to make operation as safe as possible.
    I was going to suggest a torpedo warhead but there are plenty of pressure vessels aboard a sub that can cook off in a fire.
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    Just had a thought, in that part of the ocean it could have been the sound of a hull imploding.
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    I just realized how much we need LookingSkyward in this thread. We miss you, Dave.
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    According to people following ship position transponders, the search goes on and it seems to be focused on an area that encompasses the edge of the continental shelf. But even if the San Juan went down on the shelf, the depth is likely beyond the sub's crush depth.

    Further analysis of the 'acoustic anomaly' is also undoubtedly still happening, presumably including submarine warfare experts who would be able to determine if the characteristics of the sound coincide with what would occur as the submarine implodes. The sound was picked up by people involved with monitoring for compliance with nuclear test ban treaties and those people are experts in detecting nuclear explosions, so they were only able to rule that out.

    I posted above about a battery explosion. In the last transmission from the San Juan, the captain of the submarine reported a fault with the batteries, a 'short circuit' as described by the navy commander. Failures with a diesel-electric submarine's batteries are especially dire as the batteries are the only source of propulsion power to get the sub to the surface. We don't know what the fault was or what the captain did subsequent to the report. If the fault was indeed considered minor at the time of the report, he may have taken the sub deep afterwards as he proceeded on course. If then the fault escalated to something catastrophic, perhaps with an explosion (which remains a possibility to explain the acoustic anomaly), the submarine may have lost the ability to surface. Past a certain depth, submarine ballast tanks cannot be blown empty enough to regain positive buoyancy - you need propulsion to drive the sub upwards.

    As an ex-submariner (a 'brother of the 'phin' as we call ourselves, although that term requires modification to include our sisters), this incident strikes home fairly hard. Both of the the two possible scenarios are the stuff of submariner nightmares. Being stuck on the bottom with the hull intact, freezing and losing breathable air, perhaps is the worse way to go. The other scenario is more immediately terrifying - waiting for the inevitable as the sub drops below crush depth. That death is quick, however.

    Sorry to be morbid, but these thoughts are in my mind and have been for a week. Submariners, including the late LookingSkyward, form a small, tight fraternity (sorority) and the submarine Facebook groups have focused on little else but the ARA San Juan.
    Last edited by geonuc; 2017-Nov-25 at 01:15 PM.

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