Possible Argentina submarine explosion: A snapshot of the crew members

SPH Brightcove Video
The Argentine Navy says an ‘abnormal’ sound that was ‘consistent with an explosion’ was detected in the South Atlantic ocean around the time that the missing submarine sent its last signal.
44 crew members are still missing after an Argentine submarine went missing in the South Atlantic. PHOTOS: REUTERS, LMCIPOLLETTI.COM, JESSICA JEKO GOPAR/FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - The Argentine navy raised the possibility on Thursday (Nov 23) that a navy submarine missing in the South Atlantic suffered an explosion, heightening concerns over the fate of the 44 crew members on the eighth day of an international search effort.

Here's a snapshot of the crew of the stricken San Juan, which include Argentina's first woman submarine officer, a naval officer planning to marry next month, and an experienced commander.

Argentina's first woman submarine officer

Maria Krawczyk, a submarine officer on board the Argentine navy submarine ARA San Juan, which went missing in the South Atlantic, is seen in this still image taken from a Ministry of Defense of Argentina video obtained by Reuters. PHOTO: REUTERS

Lieutenant Eliana Maria Krawczyk, 35, is third-in-command of the submarine. As chief weapons officer, she is responsible for the ship's arsenal of 22 torpedoes. She grew up in Misiones province, near the borders with Paraguay and Brazil, around 1,000km (600 miles) from the sea.

She dreamed of becoming an engineer but enrolled at naval school after a double family tragedy - her brother's death in a car accident and her mother dying from a heart attack.

She enrolled in the naval school instead, having her first encounter with the sea at 21. She specialised in under-sea warfare, becoming Latin America's first submarine officer.

Experienced commander

Captain Pedro Martin Fernandez has been commander of the San Juan since 2015. Married with three adolescent children, he flirted with the idea of becoming a teacher before joining the navy.

In two decades of missions and training programmes he has travelled the world. The 45-year-old lived for a decade in Mar del Plata, home port of the navy's two operational submarines, the San Juan and the Salta.

Future couples

Renzo Martin Silva has been in the navy since the age of 18. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

Naval rating Luis Niz, 25, was due to marry soldier Alejandra Morales on Dec 7. He only joined the crew of the San Juan after getting a promotion in 2016.

Lieutenant Renzo Martin Silva, 32, has been in the navy since the age of 18. The submarine enthusiast grew up in the foothills of the Andes in the Argentine province of San Juan, for which the submarine was named.

He planned to marry his girlfriend, a soldier, Lieutenant Maria Eugenia Ulivarri Rodi, next year.

New father

Fernando Santilli (left) with his wife Jessica Gopar and their son. PHOTO: JESSICA JEKO GOPAR/FACEBOOK

Fernando Santilli, 35, became a submariner seven years ago. He left the wine-growing province of Mendoza to become an engineer.

His wife, Jessica Gopar, posted a moving letter on Facebook on Tuesday, in which she said every day of waiting "is a little harder. There are moments of hope, others of great distress. You cannot imagine how many people are praying for you."

She dedicated a few lines of her note to the commander, asking him to "do the impossible and get back to the surface. You have 44 lives in your hands. I'm waiting for my love. See you soon."


Mario Armando Toconas Oriundo was one of the crew members on board the navy submarine before it went missing in the South Atlantic. PHOTO: LMCIPOLLETTI.COM

Rating Mario Armando Toconas Oriundo, 36, has spent 13 years in the navy. From Patagonia, he went to live in Mar del Plata, a seaside resort as well as the sub's home port. Father of an eight-year-old boy, his partner is four months pregnant with their second child.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.