Yesterday the Argentine navy abandoned its attempts to rescue 44 crew members on board a submarine that disappeared two weeks ago. Nobody has been able to find it.

This puzzles me.

All aircraft are required by law to have transponders in case there is a crash or some other emergency. In addition, airliners have “black boxes.” So why not submarines?

When the Russians lost their Kursk submarine (12 Aug 2000; 118 deaths) it took them quite a while to find it.  Same thing when they lost the K-129 submarine (8 March 1968; 98 deaths).


We mount a device in each submarine that sounds a small alarm in the command and control area every hour on the hour. Each time the small alarm sounds, crewmen have five minutes to turn it off by flipping a switch. If crewmen do not turn it off in five minutes, the submarine automatically releases a number of buoys that float to the surface. Onboard the buoys are transponders that give their GPS locations. The buoys are simultaneously released from several places on the sub from nose to stern, in case one part of the sub has been destroyed. In addition, the submarine has numerous transponders aboard that are automatically triggered when the buoys are released. The transponders broadcast in several frequencies simultaneously, including the ELF band, which will penetrate the entire earth. We already communicate with submarines in this manner. The transponders on the buoys and in the sub give exact GPS locations at all times, albeit encoded. If security is an issue, then crewmen can temporarily deactivate the onboard transponders, but not the buoy transponders, which are only activated in emergencies, and automatically. Also the system can be activated manually on a moment’s notice by flipping a switch. If someone screws up and causes a false alarm, there’s no harm done.

Strange how they don’t have something like this. Maybe some navies do, depending on the nation.  Some submarines have manual items like this, but I’m talking about a fully automated system in case the crew are incapacitated. There are many types of marine emergency transponders used in boats that broadcast the GPS location.


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