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A grave without answers in the abyss of the ocean

Relatives fear that they will never recover the bodies or know what happened in the Argentine submarine wrecked

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A grave without answers in the abyss of the ocean

Most of world was in a hurry on that submarine to get to Mar del Plata. But some more than ors. Fernando Santilli, who embarked for first time at ARA San Juan, had lost his son's first birthday, Stefano, and wanted to recover that moment as soon as possible. That I had told Jessica, his wife, last time y spoke. Pedro Martín Fernandez, captain, had promised his mor, Emma Nelly, that it would be her last voyage. After this he stayed ashore, swore to him. Everyone had ir motives. Almost all of 44 crew members had children waiting for m at base y were going to when something went wrong.

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They didn't have much left to get to. They have been sailing back for two days from Ushuaia, sournmost city on planet. The sea was raging. And something started to fail. The ship communicated with base of Mar del Plata for last time at 7.30 a.m. on Wednesday 15th and transmitted that it had a "fault principle" in battery system. They were ordered to follow path of base. And that's where all communication was lost. From that day on, Argentina lived a week of anguish. The whole country, especially relatives of those 44 crewmen, was convinced that if y found m y could be saved. Some of m were so sure that y were encouraged to go on television to imagine what would be happening at that time on submarine. Jorge Bergallo, commander of ARA San Juan, made his son on ship. "Knowing commander and his second, my son, I know that y are two serene, rational people to make decisions, surely y always had in mind safety of ir crew." Maybe y decided not to go to surface until wind was calm because it was best thing for people. Or y can be seated in background waiting for m to take m out, " military assured with a tremendous aplomb." "Training is hard, emergencies are practiced a thousand times." "My son is a great guy and I'm going to say it again," he cheered.

It was a very established conviction among 200 relatives concentrated in base of Mar del Plata to support each or, to calm down. But y all lacked a key information, which arrived on Thursday 23, eight days after last contact: several sensors placed thousands of kilometers had detected an explosion in area where submarine was lost at 10.31 on Wednesday 15, only Three hours after that last communication in which he realized battery failure. All of a sudden, everything was closing. There was no hope. They'd been in a week with delusions. Jessica Gopar, Santilli's wife, had written to him every day on Facebook telling him news, trusting that he would be locked up in submarine, waiting for a ransom. "Hi Fernando." I don't know what's going on in your calm or your desperation. Every day it gets harder. There are moments of hope and ors of much distress. There are many people praying, praying for you, you can't imagine how much. Stefano learned to say dad. "Dale call him son so he comes," he wrote in one of those days of anguish.

As victims sank, two people appreciated ir immense fate. They are two crew members who got off ARA San Juan in Ushuaia at last minute. One had it planned, had an exercise in Peru. Anor asked him to take care of his sick mor. They're only ones who got rid of ending up in abyss.

Many family members did not bear idea that y were dead from first moment as y clung each day to hope of searching. Until n it was all support for military who were looking for ir husbands, sons, brors. But certainty of death changed everything. "They lied to us!" y cried, torn to gates of base of Mar del Plata. They sent a shit to sail. They had an inconvenience in 2014 and could not emerge. They're some perverse bastards who had us here for a week. "Why didn't you say so before?" exploded Itatí Leguizamón, wife of Germán Suárez, anor sailor trapped in ARA San Juan.

It is very possible that helmet will never be found. The military recognizes that technology only allows to rescue it to a maximum of 600 meters, if y locate it. And it could be even at 3,000, because it exploded right on edge of a marine abyss and you don't know which way it fell. But in addition to human drama, tragedy is already a political crisis. The Argentines wonder if submarine, of 1985, was able to sail. Mauricio MACRI, president, has promised a thorough investigation to clarify why it exploded.

Lack of investment

Family members insisted it was a piece of junk, but navy denies it. Jorge Zavalla is one of men who knows most about that ship because he went to live in Germany while he was building, between 1982 and 1985, and was his first commander for a year and a half. For him, boat was fine, age was not a problem. "Submarines are being refreshed, updated." This one had its big repair of half life and returned to sea two years ago, it was operating perfectly, it defends itself.

If Zavalla was first to lead submarine, Horacio Jaunarena had much to do with his arrival in Argentina. He was Secretary of Defense in 1985, n minister up to three times. "It was brought in new 85 from Germany." Six subs were bought. Two were armed in Germany, San Juan and Santa Cruz, and four were to be assembled in Argentina. But y never came to an end, he remembers. Jaunarena says that low military budget cannot be linked to accident, but he does believe, as many people in Argentina say, that armed forces are abandoned. "The average age of ships is 30 years or more, many have elements that cannot already be maintained by lack of spare parts." Argentina invests 0.8% of GDP in defense, when reasonable is 1.5%, and of that 85% goes on wages. "

After a terrible military dictatorship and a disastrous Falklands war, no one wants to spend on defense in a country in crisis and or priorities. But after this tragedy Argentines will have to rethink what ships y send ir miliary to sea. The families of 44, meanwhile, can only trust that helmet will ever appear. But even so y doubt. And that is what most tortures wife of Santilli: "They did not come back and y will never return and I do not know if y will return ir bodies, which is what hurts me most, because I will not have where to take a flower."


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