Rescuers battle waves, wind in hunt for missing Argentine sub

The conning tower of the ARA San Juan submarine shown as the vessel is being delivered to the Argentine Navy after an extensive refit in Buenos Aires in May 2014

Argentina's navy says it's analyzing a noise that might have come from a missing submarine with 44 crew members on board.

An Argentine Navy spokesman said Monday that satellite calls detected over the weekend during a search-and rescue-operation for the submarine did not come from the vessel, as previously believed.

"They co-ordinated the line of bearing to that spot and then 35 square nautical miles around that they enacted a search grid".

Mr Gonzalez added that the search for the vessel was further complicated by the fact that it has "very little visual area" from the surface, making it hard to detect.

The calls that were detected "did not correspond to the satellite phone of the submarine San Juan", he said on Monday, adding that the craft had oxygen for seven days.

"Special software is being used to study different sounds and acoustics", navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told reporters in Buenos Aires.

One of those on board is Argentine Eliana Krawczyk - who became the first female South American submariner.

Authorities say the position is in line with the path the sub would have taken to reach the base in Mar del Plata as planned and a United States military aircraft has been sent to check the area.

All land communications bases along the coast were ordered to scan for any follow-up signals, as family members of the missing waited nervously in the coastal city of Mar del Plata.

The vessel was returning to the Mar del Plata Naval Base south of Buenos Aires at the conclusion of a routine patrol to the far southern port of Ushuaia.

The naval base at Mar del Plata Argentina shown on Saturday
View Slideshow The naval base at Mar del Plata Argentina shown on Saturday. Vicente Robles AP

Hopes of finding survivors were revived when the navy said Saturday that its bases had received seven satellite calls attributed to the submersible.

Built in Germany, it underwent maintenance in 2008 in Argentina.

The US official said that the waters of the Atlantic Ocean where the sounds originated are extremely deep.

The sub sent its last signal on Wednesday.

The Argentine military has also been working with a United States company that specializes in satellite communication to determine the location of the submarine.

Fears are growing for the sub, as if it hasn't surfaced it will be running out of air.

Balbi said weather conditions were not expected to improve before Tuesday.

If the sub is bobbing adrift on the surface and the hatch is open, it will have an available air supply and enough food for about 30 days, he said.

"This phase of search and rescue is critical", Balbi said.

"We have still been unable to contact them".

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