Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Defense officials in Argentina said seven signal pings believed to be from the missing submarine ARA San Juan offer fresh hope of rescue for the crew.
Defense Minister Oscar Aguad tweeted Saturday night that the country "received seven signals from satellite calls that would have been from the San Juan submarine."
"We are working arduously to locate it and we are transmitting our hopes to the families of the 44 crew members: that they may soon have them in their homes," Aguad wrote.
The country's navy, Argentine Armada, posted on its official Twitter page that the calls did not connect, but "would indicate that the crew is trying to reestablish contact."
The Argentine Armada said the calls, which lasted between 4 and 36 seconds, were received by various navy bases and efforts are underway to pinpoint the location where the calls originated. Officials said they are working with a U.S. company that specializes in satellite communication.
The ARA San Juan has been missing since Wednesday, when a fire knocked out its communications system while en route from a base in Ushia to its home base of Mar del Plata. It had been due to arrive Sunday.
The U.S. Navy announced Saturday that a P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft was being dispatched to Bahia Blanca, Argentina, to help search for the German-built, diesel-electric vessel.
NASA spokeswoman Katherine Brown told CNN a P-3 Orion aircraft, which was "already in Argentina on a scientific mission," would be joining the search efforts.
Britain's Royal Navy said in a statement that the HMS Protector, an ice patrol ship equipped with sonar equipment, was also joining the search and rescue operation.