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Home Terrifying details about what happens during a submarine implosion, focusing on the case of the Ara San Juan Submarine

Terrifying details about what happens during a submarine implosion, focusing on the case of the Ara San Juan Submarine

29/05/2024 às 14:54
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Terrifying details about what happens during a submarine implosion, focusing on the case of the Ara San Juan Submarine
Submarine Ara San Juan Photo: Argentine Navy/Disclosure

The thought of being inside a submarine sinking out of control is scary. But what really happens when a submarine reaches its maximum depth and implodes? Let's understand this frightening process and explore the case of the Ara San Juan submarine.

The implosion of a submarine occurs when the pressure of the surrounding water exceeds the hull's capacity for resistance, causing it to collapse. This one event is fast and devastating, leaving little chance of survival for the crew.

In 2017, the Argentine submarine Ara San Juan disappeared a few hundred kilometers off the coast of Argentina. Its tragic fate was revealed through acoustic analyzes that identified the depth and moment of its implosion.

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When a submarine implodes, the pressure of the surrounding water forces the hull to quickly collapse.

This collapse occurs in milliseconds and is so fast that the crew does not have time to feel pain. In the case of Ara San Juan, it was estimated that the pressure shell was destroyed in about 40 milliseconds, a shorter time than it takes for the human brain to process pain.

The depth of the implosion can be estimated from what it produces. During an underwater implosion, a gas bubble inside the submarine oscillates, creating an acoustic pulse that can be measured. In the case of Ara San Juan, the pulse frequency was about 4,4 hertz, decreasing an implosion depth of approximately 388 meters.

The energy released by the collapse of the Ara San Juan's hull was equivalent to the explosion of 12.500 pounds of TNT.

The water pressure at that depth was 570 psi, and the hull would have collapsed at a speed of more than 2.400 miles per hour. Recovering bodies from imploded submarines is virtually impossible. The force of the implosion and subsequent oscillation of the gas bubble completely destroys the submarine's interior, leaving little or no recoverable traces.

Although there are special suits that allow sunken submarines to escape to a depth of 182 meters, implosions at greater depths, such as that of the Ara San Juan, are fatal and instantaneous. Submersible rescue vehicles, such as those in the Priz class, can rescue crews from up to 975 meters, but are useless in cases of implosion.

The successful rescue of the submarine USS Squalus in 1939, where 33 men were saved, is a rare case and considered a miracle

In most cases, such as the Russian submarine Kursk and the Titan submersible in 2023, rescue attempts fail due to extreme depth and crushing pressure. In the case of the submersible Titan, which visited the wreckage of the Titanic, the implosion occurred at a depth almost ten times greater than that of the Ara San Juan, with water pressure ten times higher at the time of the accident. The Titan's crew probably didn't have time to realize what was happening before the implosion.

The implosion of a submarine is a devastating and instantaneous event. Understanding this aspect helps us consider the risks involved in operations underwater and value the safety measures permitted to protect the lives of the crew.

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