The Argentina submarine that vanished 12 days ago sent a final, desperate message reporting a short-circuiting battery onboard, the Argentine navy said on Monday.
Enrique Balbi, a spokesman for the Argentine navy, told reporters that in the ARA San Juan's last message, 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.”
Balbi said the captain later communicated via satellite phone the problem had been contained.
“They had to electrically isolate the battery and continue sailing underwater to Mar del Plata using another battery circuit,” he added.
The San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric TR-1700 class submarine, was last heard from on Nov. 15. Hopes for survivors have been largely crushed by reports of an explosion detected near the time and place the sub went missing.
Since then, there have been no signs of the sub or debris despite an intensive multinational search. Experts have said the 44 sailors aboard had only enough oxygen to last up to 10 days if the sub remained intact but submerged.