Time running low as search for Indonesian submarine continues

Carrie Guzman
April 24, 2021

Indonesia's navy has said items were found from a missing submarine, indicating the vessel with 53 crew members had sunk and cracked open, and that there was no hope of finding survivors.

"We know that the submarine is old, we know that the submarine has a depth rating of 250 meters - which means that it probably could survive to 400 500 meters", he said, adding that the vessel was in waters 700 meters deep.

"We will maximize the effort today, until the time limit, tomorrow at 3 am, " military spokesperson Major General Achmad Riad had told reporters on Friday.

As of writing, the search for the missing Indonesian submarine has not been called off.

The KRI Nanggala-402 went missing on Wednesday morning after rehearsing for torpedo drills around 60 miles north of the island of Bali, Indonesia's navy said.

"The tracking team said the lights were all still on when [KRI Nanggala] entered the water", the chief of staff said, hinting that the submarine may not have suffered a blackout.

The US Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft takes off at Ngurah Rai Military Air Base in Bali, Indonesia.

Margono said that in the past two days, searchers found parts of a torpedo straightener, a grease bottle believed to be used to oil the periscope, debris from prayer rugs and a broken piece from a coolant pipe that was refitted on the submarine in South Korea in 2012.

"The family is in a good condition and keeps praying", said Ratih Wardhani, the sister of 49-year-old crewman Wisnu Subiyantoro.

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Debris found on Saturday was confirmed to have come from the sub, navy officials said.

Singapore's MV Swift Rescue - a submarine rescue vessel - was expected later Saturday.

"With authentic evidence believed to be from the KRI Nanggala, we have raised the status from submiss to subsunk". He asked Indonesians to pray for the crew's safe return, while ordering all-out efforts to locate the submarine.

The search focused on an area near the starting position of its last dive where an oil slick was found but there is no conclusive evidence so far the oil slick was from the sub.

The submarine, which disappeared as it prepared to conduct a torpedo drill, is created to withstand a depth of up to 500 metres (1,640 ft).

The cause of the disappearance is still uncertain. Even if the vessel is still intact, it's likely to be at a depth that's beyond the capability of most recovery missions. The commander of the Indonesian submarine fleet is also on board.

In 2000, the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk suffered internal explosions and sank during manoeuvrs in the Barents Sea. In November 2017, an Argentine submarine went missing with 44 crew members in the South Atlantic, nearly a year before its wreckage was found at a depth of 800 metres (2,625 feet).

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands, has faced growing challenges to its maritime claims in recent years, including numerous incidents involving Chinese vessels near the Natuna Islands.

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