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Corruption left missing Argentine sub with wrong kit

Navy personnel were accused in an investigation of purchasing batteries to benefit equipment providers. Source: EPA.

This material belongs to: The Times.

Batteries bought to refit the submarine San Juan that went missing off the coast of Argentina on November 15 did not meet specifications, according to an investigation into repairs by the country’s defence ministry.

There are suspicions that a faulty battery in the ageing boat may have exploded underwater, or released explosive hydrogen, with catastrophic consequences when contact was lost north of the Falkland Islands.

The investigation in 2015-16 is understood to have found that navy personnel had been “involved in illicit conduct” by purchasing batteries to benefit certain equipment providers, and in doing so violated safety standards and regulations, according to documents seen by La Nacion newspaper.

Argentina’s national auditing office also questioned the purchase in May 2016, according to La Nacion.

A naval spokesman said at the weekend that the submarine’s operating system had been checked two days before it set sail on the routine mission to Ushuaia, near the southernmost tip of South America, with 44 crew.