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Argentina has given up on rescuing 44 crew members on a submarine that disappeared last month, but will continue the search for the vessel with global assistance, a navy spokesman said.

Argentina called off the rescue operation for a missing submarine after 15 days, but will continue to search for the vessel.

The navy saw no more hope of finding the crew alive, the web site Infobae said.

"Despite the vast efforts made, we have been unable to locate the submarine", he said, though adding that global efforts to find the vessel would continue.

Contact with the vessel was lost as San Juan travelled from Ushuaia to Mar del Plata - nearly exclusively by the country's coast.

The submarine was ordered to cut short its mission and return to the naval base in Mar del Plata immediately.

The search for 44 sailors on board a lost Argentine submarine has ended, leaving nearly no hope for their survival.

Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said that the rescue mission for the 44 crew members "extended for more than twice what is estimated for a rescue".

Mr Balbi said 28 ships, nine planes and 4,000 people from 18 countries were involved in the search covering 557,000 nautical miles - more including radar monitoring.

"I don't understand this arbitrary and unjustified decision", Luis Tagliapietra, the father of 27-year-old crew member Alejandro Tagliapietra, told local reporters.

And the navy has come under fire for its handling of the tragedy, as it failed to mention the problem reported by the vessel for several days after its disappearance.

The Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, or CTBTO, and US data have reported an event consistent with an explosion along the submarine's route, 267 miles off the coast and 807 miles south of Buenos Aires. "We don't know what happened and it's impossible to tell the truth from fabrication".

The search for the San Juan has employed some of the latest technology in one of the largest efforts of its kind.