The wreck of an Argentine submarine that exploded and disappeared has been found almost exactly a year after it went missing.
The ARA San Juan submarine was located in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday, said the navy, crushing the last hopes for relatives of the 44 crew.
There has been ‘positive identification of the ARA San Juan,’ at a depth of 2,600 feet, a statement on Twitter from the navy said.
The Seabed Constructor, a vessel owned by US search firm Ocean Infinity, which set out in September on the latest attempt to find the San Juan, made the discovery.
The Argentine military submarine ARA San Juan. The remains of the vessel were found in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday
The navy lost contact with the submarine on November 15 last year, about 280 miles from the Argentine coast.
It was on its way back to base from Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina.
The families of the 44 crew members who perished in the accident have been summoned to be officially informed.
Luis Niz, the father of one of the missing sailors said: ‘I still had hopes that they could be alive.’
Yolanda Mendiola, the mother of crewman Leandro Cisneros, 28, said: ‘We are with the other relatives. They are going to show us the photos. They say that our youngsters are inside.
‘We are all destroyed here.’
Signs, a bouquet of flowers and banners in support of the 44 crew members of the missing at sea ARA San Juan submarine
Navy spokesman, Rodolfo Ramallo, told Todo Noticias TV that the Ocean Infinity ship ‘decided to do a new search and, thanks to God, it was able to find the zone.
‘Now another chapter opens. From the analysis of the state in which the submarine has been found, we will see how to proceed.’
The navy has been fiercely criticized for its handling of the operation since first reporting the submarine overdue at Mar del Plata on November 16, 2017.
Relatives of the 44 crew members of the missing at sea ARA San Juan submarine embrace outside the Argentine Naval Base
Francisca Soria (pictured left), mother of Argentinian missing crew member David Melian, is embraced by Victoria Morales (pictured right), mother of Argentine missing Corporal Esteban Garcia
It was only several days into the tragedy that navy officials acknowledged the old, German-built submarine had reported a problem with its batteries in its final communication of November 15.
Nearly 10 days later, the navy confirmed there had been an explosion on board, which experts said was likely linked to the battery problem.
An air and sea search involved units from 13 countries but the majority withdrew before the end of 2017, as the wintry South Atlantic refused to give up its secrets.
Relatives of the 44 crew members of the missing at sea ARA San Juan submarine react outside the Argentine Naval Base where the submarine sailed from, in Mar del Plata, Argentina
The Seabed Constructor is equipped with cameras that can be submerged to a depth of 6,000 meters. It was to receive a reward of $7.5 million if it found the missing sub.
Before it departed for its mission, Luis Tagliapietra, whose son Alejandro was a lieutenant on the San Juan, described it as ‘the last opportunity to find them.’
Ocean Infinity was also assigned the task of searching for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which vanished without trace in March 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.