Rescue teams searching for the missing Argentine submarine will reinvestigate an area after officials determined Wednesday that a noise heard hours after the vessel went missing could help pinpoint its location, an official said.
A spokesperson for the Argentine Navy said the “hydro-acoustic anomaly” originated about 30 miles from the submarine’s last reported location on Nov. 15 in the South Atlantic before going off the grid.
The official said a U.S. P-8 Poseidon aircraft, a Brazilian air force plane and Argentine ships are going to search the area again in light of the recent discovery.
“It’s a noise,” Argentina navy spokesman Capt. Enrique Balbi said. “We don’t want to speculate.”
The ARA San Juan went missing as it was sailing from the extreme southern port of Ushuaia to the city of Mar del Plata, about 250 miles southeast of Buenos Aires. It was expected to arrive Monday at the naval base there.
The navy said the submarine reported a battery failure before it went missing but authorities have no specific details of the problem.
Rescuers worry that the 44 crew members onboard could face a depletion of oxygen, as there’s only enough to last seven to ten days if the sub was intact but submerged. Authorities do not know if the sub rose to the surface to replenish its oxygen supply and charge batteries, which would affect the calculation.
Authorities searching for the vessel have traced a number of leads in finding the sub, all of which have come up empty so far.
Hopes were lifted after brief satellite calls were received and when sounds were detected deep in the South Atlantic earlier in the search. But experts later determined that neither was from the missing sub. A U.S. Navy aircraft later spotted flares, and a life raft was found in the search area, but authorities said neither came from the missing submarine.
More than a dozen airplanes and ships are participating in the multinational search. Search teams are combing an area of some 185,000 square miles, which is roughly the size of Spain.
The U.S. government has sent two P-8 Poseidons, a naval research ship, a submarine rescue chamber and sonar-equipped underwater vehicles. U.S. Navy sailors from the San Diego-based Undersea Rescue Command are also helping with the search.
President Trump tweeted about the missing sub Wednesday night saying, “May God be with them and the people of Argentina!”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.