Satellite signals raises hope for missing Argentine submarine

A handout picture taken in 2014 shows the submarine ARA San Juan docked in Buenos Aires. More than a dozen boats and aircraft from Argentina, the US, Britain, Chile and Brazil had joined the effort to find ARA San Juan. (Argentine Navy/AFP)
Updated 19 November 2017
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Satellite signals raises hope for missing Argentine submarine

MAR DEL PLATA/BUENOS AIRES, , Argentina: Failed satellite calls that probably came from an Argentine navy submarine missing in the South Atlantic raised hopes that its 44 crew members are alive, but stormy conditions on Sunday complicated the search.
Boats searching for the German-built ARA San Juan on the ocean surface struggled against waves of up to 6 meters, navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said. The submarine was 432 kilometers off Argentina’s southern Atlantic coast when it sent its last communication early on Wednesday.
“Luckily we have been able to continue with the air search,” Balbi told reporters on Sunday. “Unfortunately, we have not yet had contact with the San Juan submarine, and we will keep working.”
More than a dozen boats and aircraft from Argentina, the United States, Britain, Chile and Brazil had joined the effort.
The submarine probably tried to make seven satellite calls on Saturday between late morning and early afternoon, the Argentine defense ministry said.
“Yesterday’s news was something of a respite for us, to know that there is life,” Claudio Rodriguez, the brother of a crew member, said on television channel A24 on Sunday morning.
Stormy weather probably interfered with the calls, and the government was working with an unidentified US company specialized in satellite communication to trace the location.
“We are checking and confirming that information, and we are trying to squeeze out any information that may result in something concrete to detect the location,” Balbi said.
A search of 80 percent of the area initially targeted for the operation turned up no sign of the vessel on the ocean surface, he said, but the crew should have ample supplies of food and oxygen.
The navy said an electrical outage on the diesel-electric-propelled vessel might have downed its communications. Protocol calls for submarines to surface if communication is lost.
The US Navy said early on Sunday morning that it would send an aircraft with 21 personnel from Jacksonville, Florida, to assist with the search. It had previously said it would deploy a deep-sea mission with a remotely operated vehicle and two vessels capable of rescuing people from submarines.
Crew members’ relatives gathered at a naval base in the coastal city of Mar del Plata, where the submarine had been expected to arrive around noon on Sunday from Ushuaia. However, it would not be unusual for storms to cause delays, Balbi said.
Argentine-born Pope Francis mentioned the missing vessel in his Sunday noon prayer.
“I also pray for the men of the crew of the Argentine military submarine which is missing,” the pontiff said.
The dramatic search has captivated the nation of 44 million, which recently mourned the loss of five citizens killed when a truck driver plowed through a bicycle path in New York City.
The ARA San Juan was inaugurated in 1983, making it the newest of the three submarines in the navy’s fleet. Built in Germany by Nordseewerke, it underwent midlife maintenance in 2008 in Argentina.


EU leaders meeting to endorse Brexit divorce deal

Updated 4 min 19 sec ago
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EU leaders meeting to endorse Brexit divorce deal

  • British Prime Minister Theresa May said the deal was the best the world’s fifth-largest economy could hope for

BRUSSELS/LONDON: European Union leaders will meet on Nov. 25 to endorse a Brexit divorce deal but British Prime Minister Theresa May was mauled by opponents, allies and mutinous members of her party who warned the agreement could sink her premiership.
May won the backing of her senior ministers after a five-hour meeting on Wednesday though she now faces the much more perilous struggle of getting parliament, which has the final say, to approve the agreement.
It is unclear when that vote might happen.
“If nothing extraordinary happens, we will hold a European Council meeting in order to finalize and formalize the Brexit agreement,” European Council President Donald Tusk said after meeting EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
More than two years after the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the EU, May said the deal was the best the world’s fifth-largest economy could hope for and that the other options were leaving with no deal or thwarting Brexit.
But in a sign of just how hard the vote in the British parliament might be, Shailesh Vara, who backed EU membership in the 2016 referendum, quit on Thursday as a junior minister in May’s government.
“I cannot support the Withdrawal Agreement that has been agreed with the European Union,” Vara said as he resigned as a Northern Ireland minister.
“We are a proud nation and it is a sad day when we are reduced to obeying rules made by other countries who have shown they do not have our best interests at heart. We can and must do better than this.”
Nick Timothy, one of May’s former chiefs of staff, said her deal was a capitulation that parliament would reject.
“When parliament rejects the prime minister’s proposal, as surely it will, there will still be time for ministers to negotiate something better,” Timothy wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Timothy, who resigned after May’s botched gamble on a snap election that lost her party its majority in parliament, said Britain should use its security contribution as a bargaining chip to get a better deal.
May will give a statement to parliament on Thursday on the deal which she hopes will satisfy both Brexit voters and EU supporters by ensuring close ties with the bloc after Britain leaves on March 29.
The ultimate outcome for the United Kingdom remains uncertain: scenarios range from a calm divorce to rejection of May’s deal, potentially sinking her premiership and leaving the bloc with no agreement, or another referendum.
Getting a deal through parliament will be difficult. She will need the votes of about 320 of the 650 lawmakers.
“The parliamentary arithmetic has looked tight for some time,” Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients. “It now looks tighter, given signs of greater unity among those who object to the draft Agreement.”
“We’re in the Brexs**t — Theresa May’s soft Brexit deal blasted by ALL sides,” read the headline in The Sun, Britain’s best-read newspaper.
The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party which props up May’s government, said it would not back any deal that treated the British province differently from the rest of the United Kingdom.