ARA San Juan Disaster

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The Argentine Navy played their cards close to the chest when it came to playing to the public. The original information releases were that the ARA San Juan, an Argentine submarine of German manufacture simply went missing ‘somewhere in the South Atlantic’. 
Since the boat is equipped with an emergency rescue buoy and in as much as it had not been deployed, the outcome was not good from the outset.
Today we’ve learned that the Argentine submarine that vanished 12 days ago sent a final, desperate message reporting a short-circuiting battery and fire onboard.

The vessel’s captain said water had entered through the snorkel when the sub was charging batteries. He said the water entered through the ventilation system to a battery connection tray in the prow and “caused a short circuit and the beginning of a fire, or smoke without flame.”

The seas were rough and they headed for port while submerged using another battery system. There was an explosion that had been detected (likely detected by a US SOSUS array, but detection attributed to a NASA P-3 conducting arctic-related studies in the area).

Families of the 44 member crew, based at Mar del Plata, have told the media that their sailors complained that the boat was essentially a death trap and a piece of junk. That squares with my own personal opinion, (so I report it here). The Argentine Navy is proud of the vessel, commissioned in 1985, and refit (in part) in 2014. The refit was a ‘short refit’ because of funding deficits, so much of what should have been done was not. 
The lesson for readers to take away is that there are no acceptable half measures where naval maintenance or training are involved. If the boat and crew are not 100%, the submarine should not leave the dock. Surface ships can be more forgiving because there are usually means available to abandon ship. Submarines have escape trunks. I’ve locked out of an escape trunk both in training and operationally and it works if you’re in relatively shallow water. Unfortunately the ocean is mostly deep. (trying to keep it simple here)
The years of Obamanation saw a situation where roughly 70% of the Marine Corps’ F-18’s were grounded for lack of spare parts to keep them flying. We’ve seen situations develop with the F-35 that make it’s debut worrisome (both because it’s ruinously expensive and because some of what is being built doesn’t work). Ship maintenance was delayed and deferred because the nation needed them at see to serve the nation’s urgent defense needs. Crew training and rotation was neglected. America is not Argentina. The US Navy is not the Argentine Navy. President Trump is not Barack Hussein Obama.  HOWEVER there is a lesson with the loss of the ARA San Juan that needs to be internalized by the American public.
My condolences go to the families of the 44 brave men who set out on a ship that was likely unfit to sail.

11 thoughts on “ARA San Juan Disaster

  1. Totally agree, yet it was Barry's desire to weaken the military for easier takeover by anyone willing to make him emperor. It remind me of the Thresher. Sad!

  2. The Thresher incident prompted the US Navy’s (under Rickover’s watchful eye) SUBSAFE program, which has certainly been the gold standard for submarine maintenance requirements.

  3. With no experience with ships and submarines I have little to add to this discussion but for a general observation.

    Dedicated military personnel the world over have a tradition of making what they have work regardless of what they should have.

    Rarely does their leadership, civilian or high ranking, give a rat's ass until they get splattered when the shit hits the fan, IMO.

  4. The example about submarine problems that sticks in my mind is the Kursk, that Russian submarine that went down off Finland in 2000. It went down in water 354' deep. Stand a football field with the end zones on end and the sub is shallower than that length, but for all the ability to rescue them, they might as well have been on the moon.

    Ignoring the stupid moves on the Russian Navy's part all the way around.

    Submarines are no place to mess around with half measures.

  5. Having spent most of my time in the US Navy aboard a fast attack boat I had a sick feeling they were lost by the fact no distress buoy was mentioned. Very sad. My heart goes out to those families.

  6. Skimping on military spending always costs lives. Jimmy Carter's legacy suffered because of the botched rescue of Iranian hostages owing to mechanical failures (bad helicopters) because Jimmy wanted to channel the military money elsewhere.

    Barry O. cut back spending on the military to dole those funds out to crack whores and other transfer payments in exchange for votes. We are now living with Barry's bad decisions.

    Democrats = death. Generally speaking.

  7. Very sad.

    Back in the '80s I met a man who'd been a submariner during the war (#2) and remarked, stupidly, "that sounds pretty dangerous." His take was that it wasn't any more dangerous than being a rating on a big ship — if things went wrong you were probably just as underwater… he made it through, fortunately.

  8. Though we still lost the Scorpion a few years later. From everything I've read about it, it seems likely that was a torpedo issue (hot run or battery fire).

  9. Yep, explosion was 'probably' the second battery pack shorting. The 'rescue' has been called off, it is now a 'recovery' effort. May they rest in peace.

  10. WE therefore commit their bodies to the deep, to be turned into corruption, looking for the resurrection of the body, when the Sea shall give up her dead, and the life of the world to come, through our Lord Jesus Christ; who at his coming shall change our vile body, that it may be like his glorious body, according to the mighty working, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself. Amen.

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