Father of missing sub’s Lt. commander once was the captain of the same vessel: I knew the crew’s fate

It sounds horrible, but it gave me peace of mind knowing that they are not at the bottom drowning or suffocating because there is no air, Jorge Bergallo said

Vessel
The Argentine submarine ARA San Juan. Profimedia, Polaris

The father of the second-in-command of the missing Argentine vessel on Thursday said he had accepted his son’s death and found peace.

In an unusual twist, Jorge Bergallo, the father of Lt. Cmdr. Jorge Ignacio Bergallo, once served as the captain of the missing vessel, the ARA San Juan.

The naval veteran told how he was relieved when he and the families of the sub’s 44 crew were told that an underwater explosion had been detected around the time and location of the San Juan’s disappearance on Nov. 15.

“When they told us about the explosion, I understood many things,” he told Anadolu Agency.

“Although it sounded hard, it is like that, they are all dead. Because if they were not all dead, someone would have opened certain valves, would have made certain maneuvers”.

View of Argentina’s Navy base in Mar del Plata, on the Atlantic coast south of Buenos Aires, on November 20, 2017. Profimedia, AFP

Bergallo said his knowledge of the submarine and the way it operated added to the emotional toll of his son’s disappearance.

He played various scenarios through in his mind, thinking what he would do in different circumstances -a process he found exhausting.

However, when he heard about the explosion, he realized the certainty of the crew’s fate.

“It sounds horrible, but it gave me peace of mind knowing that they are not at the bottom drowning or suffocating because there is no air,” he said.

“Along with my other retired colleagues from the navy, we were looking at everything they said about the communications, the positions, the depth of that place.

“What happened was that my wife saw me doing those analyses. She did not ask me for the details because I was not going to give them to her either way, it did not make sense. But yes, that’s what wears you out the most, that killed me.”

The Argentine Navy said last week that they no longer carried hopes of rescuing the crew but were still seeking to retrieve the San Juan.

The German-built diesel-electric TR-1700 class submarine last made contact with commanders on Nov. 15 to report that water had entered the vessel through its snorkel and caused a battery fault.

It was told to head for Mar del Plata, a naval base 390 kilometers (242 miles) south of Buenos Aires, for repairs.

The sub’s commander later made a satellite phone call to say the problem had been contained – the last communication before a loud noise was detected.

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