Argentina navy chief sacked over submarine tragedy

The Defense Ministry requested Admiral Marcelo Srur`s removal during an ongoing investigation. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Buenos Aires, Argentina Dec 17, 2017, 12.27 AM (IST)

Argentina dismissed its naval chief Saturday, a month after a submarine went missing with 44 crew members on board, a military official said.

The Defense Ministry requested Admiral Marcelo Srur's removal during an ongoing investigation into the sub's disappearance, the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

At least two other senior Navy officers have been relieved so far over the ARA San Juan's disappearance.

Military sources quoted by local media say President Mauricio Macri is willing to retire most of the naval leadership.

The government is also creating an internal investigative commission that will be headed by retired captain Jorge Bergallo, father of the ARA San Juan's second commander, Jorge Ignacio Bergallo, government sources told state agency Telam.

An international search operation has so far failed to locate the vessel, and the 43 men and one woman who were travelling on board are believed to have died in the tragedy. 

But families of the missing have pressed the government to continue the search, which has not yet been officially closed.

A British oceanographic vessel and an Argentine one were exploring the ARA San Juan search area with sonar equipment Saturday, the navy said, while warning of "very adverse weather conditions" expected this weekend.

The ARA San Juan is one of the South American country's three submarines, but only one of them, the ARA Salta, is operational. The ARA Santa Cruz was removed from service for having serious failures that require a complete overhaul.