Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Argentina's "Missing" Sub- What's the Real Story?

I'm going to be straight and say I don't know what the "real story" is!
However, I've had that uncomfortable feeling about this incident since the story first broke.
And that discomfort always appears when something is off..
When hubby first told me about this.. my first thought was ... Britain, the Falklands and Argentina.

ARA San Juan

The latest news goes like this:
"The Argentinian Navy has revealed that the submarine that disappeared over a week ago vanished after water got into its snorkel and made a battery short-circuit."
"An explosion was detected in the vicinity which could have been the vessel imploding"
Or not?   How did the snorkel get damaged?
Why couldn't the explosion have occurred before water got into the snorkel? Causing water to enter the snorkel?

What is a snorkel and how does it work?

Of course I took some time to read up on this!

When the batteries need to be recharged, but the submarine wants to reduce its exposure to surface detection, it gets to a shallow depth and raises the snorkel.
The submarine comes up to periscope depth, then raises the snorkel mast, which is essentially a hollow tube with a float valve on top (to prevent sucking in seawater). The diesel engine is then started, fresh air for the diesel is sucked down through the snorkel mast, and the exhaust is pushed by the engine .

Was the sub damaged as it sat just below the surface of the water, with it’s snorkel raised? Could that have been the explosion heard?

Repeating: The snorkel is a device which allows a submarine to operate submerged ( but not deeply submerged) while still taking in air from the surface. 

Some curiousities: I don't by Argentina's Submarine Explanation

Something strange is going on with regards to the ARA San Juan, a 44-crew Argentine submarine that went missing on Nov. 15th.

Put simply, I doubt Argentina's claim that it received reports on Wednesday and Thursday of underwater acoustic events recorded last week.

Argentina says that the first acoustic report arrived from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization on Thursday, and the other report from the U.S. on Wednesday. Both reports, the Argentine navy says, match the time and location of the San Juan's disappearance last week. Argentina now believes an underwater explosion occurred.

Sadly, it seems likely the boat has been lost with all hands.

Still, as I say, the story doesn't add up here.

First off, if a major abnormal, non-naturally occurring sound was detected on Nov. 15th, why did Argentina only find out about it today and yesterday?

If a submarine explosion/implosion-magnitude sound was recorded, the data analysis devices employed by the CTBTO and the U.S. source (we don't know the identity of the U.S. detecting agency) would likely have registered it immediately. Even if analysts weren't looking for a sound in the area, their computer systems probably would have flagged the sound for further investigation.
It doesn't seem very likely an occurrence, however, the author of this piece entertained the thought
But let's assume that didn't happen and that the sound was recorded but not flagged for attention and thus sank into the storage files.

Even then, it still doesn't explain why the Argentina was informed just yesterday about the sounds. After all, the moment the San Juan was reported missing on Nov. 17th, any organization possessing acoustic collection capabilities in the South Atlantic would have immediately scoured their data recordings for any evidence of an explosion. That process should have taken a matter of hours, certainly not a week.

There's another mystery here.

We now know the San Juan passed closer to the British Falkland Islands territory than previously believed. As I noted last week, this makes it likely the San Juan would have been monitored by the Royal Navy. Moreover, we must assume Britain has advanced acoustic capabilities reaching toward the location where the San Juan was last detected. That certainly seems more credible than the CTBTO — oriented toward detecting nuclear tests — somehow measuring the South Atlantic (there aren't many nuclear powers in that region).
And there it is! The very issue that bothered me when this news first broke- The British Falkland Island Territories. According to the author of the above linked piece the San Juan passed closer to the British claimed territory then had previously been believed. What was the British reaction to this? We're they monitoring the sub? I believe they would have been!
Considering that military grade acoustic systems are designed to detect a metaphorical pin drop in the ocean, it seems odd that the Royal Navy wouldn't have detected any major noise in that region.
Yes, it does seem very, very odd that the Royal Navy wouldn't have heard the San Juan "pin drop" right in their own neighbourhood
That leads me to lean towards two alternative conclusions about what's going on here.

First, that the U.S. or Royal Navy detected the explosion last week and rapidly passed that information directly to Argentina. In this case, we must assume the Argentine navy kept their findings quiet in the hope of finding the San Juan or its wreckage. Now that they are declaring the reports, it seems clear they believe San Juan is lost.

Second, that the Royal Navy detected the explosion and rapidly passed that information on to the CTBTO, for reasons of diplomacy or to avoid showing Argentina their detection capabilities.

Regardless, I believe Argentina knew more earlier than it claims.
I agree with the author that it's most likely the US and the Royal Navy detected this explosion immediately.  But I do wonder if, particularly, the Royal Navy might have played a role in whatever occurred with the submarine.

Never let a crisis go to waste? Or create a crisis and take advantage of the situation?

An RAF aircraft has landed on Argentinian soil for the first time since the Falklands War to assist in the search for a missing submarine.

The ARA San Juan disappeared 268 miles off Argentina's southern Atlantic coast last Wednesday and is understood to have had a seven-day supply of oxygen.

As part of the UK's effort to help in the search for the Argentinian sub and its crew, an RAF Voyager carrying equipment and submarine specialists was dispatched to Comodoro Rivadavia.

On its arrival in the southern Argentinian city, the crew were received by an Argentinian navy chief.

Israel sells Britain £78m ‘Iron Dome’ to protect Falklands from missile attacks

 Britain has spent £78 million protecting the Falkland Islands with a new missile defense shield also used by Israel, shortly after Argentina bought a new fleet of fighter jets. Argentina has long claimed what it calls the Islas Malvinas as its own.

The Falklands’ new Sky Sabre defense system is part of a £280-million renewal package for the islands announced by then-defense secretary Michael Fallon in 2015
 The new, souped-up defense shield is the product of Mprest, a company founded by former Israeli military officers. Mprest chief executive Natan Barak said the defense system would help make life on the Falklands safer.
There are so many geopolitical changes in the world. You don’t really know what is going to happen in the next three years… conflict and threats are changing,” he said. “We want to make sure our platform will be capable of dealing with the next war we haven’t thought about. It will make Great Britain more secure
Barak praised the missile defense system, which will be integrated into Britain’s command and control system.
“Our system is capable of doing this very fast. You have to identify, as fast as you can, which object is in the air, whether it is Great Britain’s or something else, and see if it is a threat. It connects many sensors and other things to build a tactical picture.”
“It also has to be capable of integrating with launchers and missiles. They will be able to operate and activate our system to fire on threats,” he added.
 Maritime Iron Dome system aboard INS Lahav declared operational after 18 months of testing, enabling greater defense of Israel’s economic sea assets, including gas rigs

The tests included launching Grad rocket-like projectiles to ranges of dozens of kilometers,

The maritime Iron Dome system was created to defend Israel's maritime economic water zone.
The maritime model of the Iron Dome has also been synched with the "Adir" naval radar aboard INS Lahav, as well as with detection systems on the beach, with the two systems complementing and backing one another.

Is Britain operating this system on the Falklands?  Even if it's just testing Grad Rocket like projectiles to varying ranges? And the submarine is in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or not!  Maybe it's too farfetched, but, maybe it isn't? Maybe some testing of the Iron Dome went wrong? Or not so wrong?  After all the US has tested/fired missiles and brought down civilian airliners. As have others. So is it a stretch to wonder if the submarine was a practiced upon target? Just thinking out loud.

 Besides Britain, Argentina is notable because Israel has some very big interests in it 

Andinia Plan
Patagonia- o8 to 17 

Then there is Antarctica- competition for that frozen place is very heated (pun intended)
Antarctica “As Antarctica becomes more relevant for the world, we have to strengthen our presence to protect our interests,” she told accompanying journalists. “What happens to Antarctica happens to Argentina.”


  1. Looks like the American taxpayer just got another fucking courtesy of our Israeli allies. The Iron Dome was created and funded by the US, then given to Israel, now they're selling it to other nations?

    That special relationship sure is one-sided.

    As for the sub, I also read a story that the Argentine Navy was behind in its sub upkeep, so maybe it's just a case of stupidity.

    1. Hey Greg: Could be that too- Which is why I opened very clearly with an I don't know- truly does appear as if the Argentina obfuscated the incident and definitely the reports of when and who heard what are suspect.
      There were two other points of interest wrt Argentina that always have to be considered

      I'm going to add a couple of additional links so readers understand how those two nouns places factor into Argentina's geostrategic placement

    2. What do they want to use Antactica for? It's just ice? Interesting analysis, though.

    3. Yah, Antarctica has resources.

    4. Hi Ally:
      It's not just the resources it's also the location
      Both poles are very strategic locations
      From both/either of the locations one can reach out and control lots of territory, waters, resources etc
      so it's also location

  2. It's difficult to believe that the sub went missing. Just like MH370 the passenger jet that went missing off Indonesia a few years ago.

    SOMEBODY knows where it is. One possible scenario is that it is a "drill" to take out the property of another country and never have to "own up". A control game. This would be a warning to all small, military vulnerable countries (like Canada)...don't bother buying and/or maintaining military assets like submarines...because we can take them out and/or shoot them down and you will never know what happened to them.