Two C-17 Globemaster IIIs and a C-5M Super Galaxy were dispatched to Argentina on Saturday, bringing with them two underwater rescue systems to aid in the search for A.R.A. San Juan, an Argentine navy submarine that went missing in the South Atlantic Ocean on Nov. 15.
The three aircraft were scheduled to arrive Sunday in Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina, according to Air Mobility Command.
The aircraft first stopped at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, to pick up a Submarine Rescue Chamber (SRC) and an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), according to the statement from AMC.
“We’re trying to get very specialized equipment down to our partners in Argentina to assist with the search efforts,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Kelly, a C-5M Super Galaxy flight engineer with the 22nd Airlift Squadron. “These are the most motivating missions. There’s people possibly [in distress], and we’re trying to get this equipment on the other side of the world as fast as possible.”
Argentina’s Navy detected seven brief satellite calls Saturday that officials believe may have come from a submarine with 44 crew members that hadn’t been heard from in three days.
A second rescue system, called a Pressurized Rescue Module (PRM), will be transported on separate flights early this week week, AMC said.
The SRC is a rescue chamber designed during World War II. It can rescue six people at a time and reach a bottomed submarine at depths of 850 feet. The PRM, by comparison, can recover 16 people at a time at a depth of 2,000 feet.
Both assets are operated by a crew of two and mate with the submarine by sealing over the submarine’s hatch, allowing sailors to safely transition to the rescue chamber.
“The U.S. Air Force takes pride in always being ready and always there to assist those in need,” said Gen. Carlton Everhart, Air Mobility Command commander. “Moments matter, and the AMC team is committed to providing support to our Argentinian partners and friends.”
The equipment is a part of the United States’ support to Argentina’s call for international assistance in their ongoing search for their wayward submarine, according to a Nov. 18 press release from U.S. Southern Command.
“Our airmen understand the importance of this mission and the impact,” Everhart said. “We are working closely with our joint service partners and our Argentinian friends to offer assistance and bring various capabilities and expertise to help wherever we can.”
The C-17s are assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and the C-5M Super Galaxy is assigned to the 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis Air Force Base, California, according to the statement.