Though it had located the vessel, the Argentine government acknowledged on Saturday that it lacked the proper technology to rescue the ARA San Juan submarine found deep in waters off the Valdes Peninsula.
The navy said early in the morning that a "positive identification" had been made by a remote-operated submersible from the American company Ocean Infinity. The company was responsible for the search for the missing vessel and was commissioned by the Argentine government.
Officials are still determining what to do next, Defense Minister Oscar Aguad said.
The discovery was announced just two days after families of the missing sailors held a commemoration one year after the sub disappeared on Nov. 15, 2017.
The San Juan was returning to its base in the coastal city of Mar del Plata when contact was lost. Argentina gave up hope of finding survivors after an intense search aided by 18 countries, but the navy has continued searching for the vessel.
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The German-built diesel-electric TR-1700 class submarine was commissioned in the mid-1980s and was most recently refitted between 2008 and 2014. During the $12 million retrofitting, the vessel was cut in half and had its engines and batteries replaced. Experts said refits can be difficult because they involve integrating systems produced by different manufacturers, and even the tiniest mistake during the cutting phase can put the safety of the ship and crew at risk.
The navy said previously the captain reported on Nov. 15 that water entered the snorkel and caused one of the sub's batteries to short-circuit. The captain later communicated that it had been contained.
Some hours later, an explosion was detected near the time and place where the San Juan was last heard from. The navy said the blast could have been caused by a "concentration of hydrogen" triggered by the battery problem reported by the captain.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.