WHOI ship searches for missing sub

The Atlantis, a research vessel at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Courtesy WHOI

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) research vessel Atlantis is playing a role in the search for the missing submarine San Juan from Argentina. The Atlantis, which was on a research mission headed for the South Atlantic, was diverted Tuesday, Nov. 21, according to a WHOI press release issued Monday. The submarine had only a seven-day supply of oxygen, the news service reported.

The Atlantis has a sophisticated multibeam sonar and underwater communications system, according to the release. The sonar is being used to detect the submarine, which may be on the seafloor.

The sub, which has 44 crew members on board, went missing on Nov. 15 while on its way from the port of Ushuaia to the city of Mar del Plata. According to a report by Reuters Monday, water got into the submarine’s snorkel on the day it disappeared, causing its battery to short-circuit.

While Atlantis is owned by the U.S. Navy and is operated by WHOI on a charter agreement, a WHOI spokesman said this is the first time the vessel has been called to action by the government to assist in a mission.

The Atlantis is not alone; Reuters reports that 4,000 personnel from 13 countries are part of the search.