November 21, 2017

Rumoured Underwater Noises NOT From Submarine San Juan


It is important that prematurely announced rumours (of messages, sounds, etc) allegedly coming from ARA San Juan do not give relatives, or others, false hope. The roller-coaster of pessimism and optimism can only cause more worry. Out of false hope or military/government agendas comes conspiracy theories. A recent precedent was the loss of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) - a large jet that in March 2014 (very likely) crashed into the Indian Ocean. 

Despite rumour spreading and political posturing by the Malaysian military and government (and prematurely announced judgements from Australia's Prime Minister in 2014) MH370 has never been found. Although small bits of MH370 washed up on beaches, more than a year later and thousands of miles away from the expected crash point. 

The search for San Juan may occur more like that of Air France Flight 447 (AF447) a flight from Rio, Brazil to Paris. AF477, an Airbus A330, crashed into the Atlantic, on 1 June 2009. AF477 was not fully located by undersea probes until April 2011.


 The Guardian, November 21, 2017, reported, in part:

"Argentina's navy says fresh noises are not [NOT] from missing submarine"

    "...Argentina’s navy has said sounds detected from the bottom of the ocean are not from the
    submarine which has been missing in rough seas for five days with 44 crew on board.
Spokesman Enrique Balbi said “a biological source” [eg. a whale] was behind the noises which were picked up by two Argentinian navy ships searching for ARA San Juan and by sonar buoys dropped by a US P8 surveillance plane.
The navy has also revealed the submarine’s last communication, on Wednesday, was to report a mechanical breakdown related to its batteries. Captain Gabriel Galeazzi, who runs the naval base in Mar del Plata, which was the submarine’s destination, said mechanical problems were not uncommon and rarely posed a risk.
The announcement regarding the noises dashed hopes raised by a CNN report on Monday that stated the sounds could be crew members banging tools against the hull. “The sounds are not from the submarine and do not correspond to a pattern that could be interpreted as Morse code,” Balbi said..."

Submarine ARA San Juan was travelling north from Ushuaia to the main submarine base at Mar Del Plata when it vanished - within what is now a very wide and deep search area (Map courtesy the Daily Mail (Australia Edition).

November 20, 2017

Argentine Navy/Government Needs Proof for Relatives & Other Reasons

As Submarine Matters indicated 3 days ago (November 18, 2017) ARA San Juan has tragically and "Likely Sunk With All Hands" due to collision "fire, explosion, flood or escape of poison gas...due to malfunctioning of a sub's lead-acid batteries or torpedo propellant or warheads". 

As indicated yesterday (November 19, 2017) San Juan's alleged messages may have come from a ship or fishing boat and "may not be related to the fate of San Juan". Now the Argentine Navy has said "there was no “clear evidence” that the calls had come from the submarine."

The Argentine Navy understandably will see its task as establishing proof of San Juan's fate:

-  Proof is required to prevent the spread of strange rumours that raise the hopes of the San
   Juan relatives and ordinary Argentinians that San Juan is somehow still "alive". 
-  Proof is required for the morale of the Navy and to indicate to TKMS, the German builder
   of the submarine, that the design is sound.
-  Proof also needs to be communicated by the Argentine Navy/Government in a way that
   protects the political reputation of the Argentine Navy and Government.

An Inquiry will follow any eventual  discovery of San Juan. The Inquiry will look at Argentine submarine safety training methods, maintenance of the submarines and why authorities decided to still use such an old submarine as San Juan - which dates back to 1983

For proof the Argentine Navy most likely needs the help of small manned, or more likely unmanned, deep submerging probes that Submarine Matters pointed to yesterday. These have been flown to Argentina by a US Airforce/US Navy joint effort. These probes are at A and B below:

These probes will be able to photograph San Juan on the sea floor. 

Some probes can listen for any signs of life in San Juan. Probes can be lowered that can rescue crew (though crew still being alive is highly unlikely). Eventually probes may be able to cut into San Juan and perhaps raise itAll this depends on how deep on the sea floor San Juan has descended.

A - a remotely operated, deep diving, pressurized rescue module (PRM) (Photo courtesy US Navy via USNI)
and B - it is also likely the US Navy has flown Bluefin-21 or similar autonomous underwater vehicle(AUVs)AUVs can “see” submarines on the seafloor using side-scan sonar and other sensors. (Image courtesy General Dynamics Marine Systems).


Submarine Propulsion Table - 1st Attempt

Using much of Anonymous's input of November 19, 2017 and many websites I've put together the 1st Attempt at a Submarine Propusion Table.

Note that I have avoided detail of actual power outputs of diesels, motors and AIP because such output figures are variable and often disagree. Working out precise, official and universal power outputs would take forever - or maybe for the time being...

Much emphasis is on submarine propulsion of competitors to Western countries. Those competitors being mainly North Korea, China, Russia and maybe Iran.

There is much to change, correct and add to the Table, of course. Nuclear submarine propulsion needs adding.

If the text in the Table looks a bit small (and you have WORD 7 or more modern) just simultaneously press Ctrl and + to enlarge the text. Press Ctrl and - to shrink the screen back to its usual size.

So here is the 1st Attempt

Submarine Propulsion Table (as at November 20, 2017)

Diesel engine
Motor, AIP (if fitted)
North Korea
Golf /
1 to 3 E390ZC-1? Russian Golf class given to NK with 3 × diesels originally

MTU 16V396SE84 or MAN SEMT Pielstick ?
Ming class, Type 033
1 x E390ZC-1

MTU 16V396SE84 or MAN SEMT Pielstick ?
Song class (Type 039) & Yuan class (Type 039A or 41)
Likely use 2 to 4 x MTU 16V396SE84 or 12 cylinder  MAN 12PA4V200SMDS page 6

16V diesel built by Yuchai Group see sources  A and B or MTU derivative likely, given China now has a MTU 4000 factory
Kilo class
2 to 4 1DL42 (ChN 30/38) last sentence & see whole document

Likely to use 2 to 4 x MTU 16V396SE84 ?
Lada/Amur class, just 1 testbed
AIP being developed

Kilo class
2 to 4 1DL42 (ChN 30/38) last sentence & see whole document

Kilo class
2 to 4 1DL42 (ChN 30/38) last sentence & see whole document

Type 212A
1998-still building
1  MTU 16V396SE84, PEM AIP
Siemens Permasyn youtube & last page ,AIP
MTU 12V4000U83 ?
Type 209, 214, 218, Dolphin, TR-1700,
1971 – still being built
Siemens Permasyn last page AIP
MTU 12V4000U83 ?
4 so far
1 or 2 MTU 16V 396,  
Siemens Permasyn last page AIP

Naval Group (DCNS)
Scorpene for Chile, Malaysia, India, Brazil
2000 – still being built

Oyashio class

Soryu class

2 × Hedemora Diesel

Stirling/Sterling AIP

3 × Garden Island-Hedemora HV V18b/15Ub (VB210) 18-cylinder
3 × Jeumont-Schneider, no AIP

Shortfin future class "12" but likely 6
See Rex Patrick’s APDR, Siemen’s Oct 2015 article
no AIP?

Anonymous and Pete

November 19, 2017

Radio Satellite Messages NOT Likely From Submarine San Juan

I indicated  (on 18 November 2017) that submarine ( submarino ) ARA San Juan on 15 November 2017 “Likely Sunk With All Hands”. Despite some announcements from the Argentine Defense Ministry (providing some hope or comfort) it is still likely all or most of the crew have been lost.

The Argentine Defense Ministry reported “We received seven signals from satellite calls that originated from the San Juan submarine... The Defense working with an American company that specializes in satellite communication to determine the exact location of the signals."

The [signals] lasted between four and 36 seconds in the late morning and early afternoon on Saturday ([18 November 2017] local time). Apparently, and so far, these signals failed to establish San Juan’s location.

The US has sent one or two small deep submergence rescue submarine systems (see Photo 2 and Artwork below) to Argentina. These systems must be deployed from specially fitted-out ships to operate in the search area.


As indicated in COMMENTS-1 yesterday Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacons EPIRBs form one means of search and rescue communication that San Juan likely has/had. San Juan may also have even more effective naval floating rescue buoys which may be attached by thin cable to San Juan and automatically released in the event of a serious accident or sinking. No crewman need be alive to release the buoy that then transmits messages/calls/signals automatically.

An EPIRB (see Photo 1 below) is a type of transmitter which can float. An EPIRB's signals, through satellite triangulation, can provide an approximate or exact location of the people or the craft, who manually or automatically turned on the EPIRB.

However, unfortunately an EPIRB/rescue buoy can float and transmit independently of the fate of San Juan:

-  an EPIRB/rescue buoy may have been automatically released by San Juan as San Juan fatally sunk
-  an EPIRB/rescue buoy would normally be programmed to send out regular distress signals, even if there are no human operators present
maybe it is possible some crew may be floating, maybe with an EPIRB
hopefully there is a thin cable (see Photo 1 below) connecting San Juan to an EPIRB/rescue buoy.
-  Such a thin cable may permit exact location of San Juan even if San Juan is on the seafloor
-  if there is no thin cable an EPIRB/rescue buoy may have floated many miles away from San Juan’s, likely seafloor, location
-  as EPIRBs only cost a few hundred dollars they are very commonly carried by ships and even small fishing boats. So their transmissions may not be related to the fate of San Juan.

[Regarding the final point above, The [UK] Guardian subsequently reported on 21 November, 2017: "None of the communications on Saturday [18 November 2017] were from the San Juan,” [Argentine Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi] told reporters. News of the attempted calls were disclosed on Sunday, but they turned out to be from another ship broadcasting on the same frequency employed by the San Juan, Balbi said."] 

Photo 1 - A floating Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacon EPIRB used to indicate location of a sailor in a raft. Note the thin cable connecting EPIRB to raft. If an EPIRB (or similar naval floating rescue buoy) is connected to San Juan there may be some hope. (Photo courtesy .

Photo 2 - Heavy US transport aircraft are reportedly delivering submarine rescue systems to Argentina. A remotely operated, deep diving, pressurized rescue module (PRM) may form part of a the San Juan rescue mission (Photo courtesy US Navy via USNI)
Artwork - It is also likely the US Navy has flown Bluefin-21 or similar autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to Argentina to aid in the search for San Juan. AUVs can “see” submarines on the seafloor using side-scan sonar and other sensors. (Image courtesy General Dynamics Marine Systems).

Submarine ARA San Juan was travelling north from Ushuaia to the main submarine base at Mar Del Plata when it vanished (Map courtesy the Daily Mail (Australia Edition).


November 18, 2017

Argentine Submarine San Juan Likely Sunk With All Hands

See Submarine Matter's latest report on the San Juan tragedy at Some Hope San Juan Submarine Crew Sending Messages - But Unlikely, of 19 November 2017 - that is at

On Friday, 17 November 2017 it was announced the Argentine submarine ARA San Juan had not been heard from for over 48 hours. San Juan was in the southern Argentine sea 250 miles from Argentina's Patagonian coast when it sent its last signal on Wednesday, 15 November 2017 (Partly based on Wikipedia). Specifically San Juan last reported in when it was en route from the Ushuaia naval base to the Mar del Plata base (where Argentina's submarine force is home based).[8] 

The search and rescue operations had been launched some 220 miles southeast of San Jorge Gulf.[7]  The initial search and rescue operation was carried out by the destroyer Sarandi and the corvettes Rosales and Drummond, supported by two S-2E Tracker surveillance aircraft.[9] A US P-3 Orion maritime patrol plane (equipped with a magnetometergravimeter, and other sensors) has joined the search[12] and the UK has offered assistance in the form of a C-130 Hercules based in the Falkland Islands.[13]

Brazilian website advised on 18 November 2017 that US military Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) directed the US Navy to deploy Poseidon P-8A multi-mission maritime aircraft to Bahia Blanca, Argentina, on 18 November to search for San Juan.

Through an Argentine news site Pope Francisco, who is Argentinian, encouraged efforts to find San Juan.

There are at least 44 people on board San Juan.[10] Among them is Argentina's first female submarine officer, Eliana María Krawczyk.[11]


Generally and unfortunately submarines that have been "lost" for 2 to 3 days have sunk with all hands. Likelihood of it being sunk is partly because there are so many means of commmunication on a submarine, to indicate its "alive" including:
-  several types of radios that work to satellites (eg. US Government satellites and Inmarsat) and/or to
   Argentinian or foreign naval base stations
-  even in the unlikelihood of all radios failing San Juan could indicate its position by "pinging" its 
   active sonar(s) to maximum volume. This is a useful means of indicating a submarine's precise 
   position to listening "passive" sensors (eg. on naval ships) that are even hundreds of miles away.
-  when surfaced the submarine could fire flares and turn on its navigation lights day and night
-  when surfaced the submarine could activate military versions of  Emergency Position 
   Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs)
San Juan, if it can surface, can always contact passing surface ships, fishing boats or coastal 

ARA San Juan (S-42) is a TR-1700-class enlarged German TKMS designed derivative of the Type 209 conventional diesel-electric submarine.

Even though San Juan has had extensive upgrades its hull is old as it was completed in 1983. This means that the hull would be rusted/corroded and may suffer metal fatigue. It would have a more limited diving depth than when it was new.

Other than unintentionally diving too deep to crush depth a submarine can "sink" for many other reasons, including:
-  collision with the seafloor or a hard rock, with an iceberg or with a surface ship
-  crew mistakes in upsetting the buoyancy of a submarine can also be fatal
-  fire, explosion, flood or escape of poison gas can also occur due to malfunctioning of a sub's
   lead-acid batteries or torpedo propellant or warheads.

It is most likely that the Argentine Navy and Government knows San Juan was supposed to be "sailing" and what has likely happened to San Juan. But getting divers or a deep submergence submarine to San Juan on the seafloor may cause most of the delay before final judgements can be made. Also strong winds have been delaying search and rescue efforts. Then the Argentine Government will make the difficult decision to announce San Juan's fate.

All that pessimism aside I hope the crew of San Juan have survived.

Submarine ARA San Juan was travelling north from Ushuaia to the main submarine base at Mar Del Plata when it vanished (Map courtesy the Daily Mail (Australia Edition).

ARA San Juan in happier times. (Photo courtesy Argentinian Government).