A fleet of four high-tech unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) deployed by the U.S. Navy have joined ships and aircraft from more than a half dozen countries to search for an Argentine navy submarine missing with 44 submariners on board in the southern Atlantic.
One Bluefin 12D (Deep) UUV and three Iver 580 UUVs operated by the U.S. Navy's recently-established Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron 1, based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, have joined in the search for ARA San Juan, last seen on Wednesday, November 15, in the San Jorge Gulf, a few hundred kilometers off the coast of southern Argentina.
The U.S. Navy said its UUVs are uniquely capable to help in the search, as both can deploy quickly to scour wide areas of the ocean using side scan sonar to image large sections of the sea floor. The Bluefin 12D is capable of conducting search operations at 3 knots at a maximum depth of almost 5,000 feet for 30 hours, while the Iver 580s can operate at a depth of 325 feet, traveling at 2.5 knots for up to 14 hours.
In addition to the four UUVs, the U.S. is also providing aircraft, personnel and other assets including underwater equipment specifically designed for submarine search and rescue to assist the Argentine government in its multinational hunt which has also drawn support from Brazil, Chile, Peru, the U.K. and Uruguay.
ARA San Juan is a diesel-electric submarine built in the 1980s.