The crew of Argentina's lost ARA San Juan submarine endured an excruciating two hours battling fires aboard the stricken vessel before it imploded at depth and sank, an official investigation has revealed.
On November 15 last year, fire broke out in the battery tank located in the San Juan's bow. Water had entered through the sub's snorkel, triggering what was swiftly to become a fatal incident.
Despite the influx of water, the vessel dove to a greater depth and attempted to continue the journey to its home naval base Mar del Plata, 400 kilometers south of the capital Buenos Aires.
Investigators told the Nacion newspaper that the fires most likely spread throughout the stricken submarine, forcing the crew to battle the blaze in ferocious weather conditions.
According to their report, the vessel eventually imploded – killing the 44 crew almost instantly and sinking into the depths.
The investigating commission was formed by Rear Admiral Adolfo Trama and Alejandro Kenny, along with Captain Jorge Bergallo, father of crew member Jorge Ignacio Bergallo.
The commission has also ruled out maintenance issues, rejecting claims the submarine was not seaworthy when it embarked on its ill-fated final voyage.