The Indonesian navy is actively searching for a lost submarine with 53 crew members on board, said Hadi Tjahjanto, the country’s military chief on Wednesday.
The Indonesian Ministry of Defense said an oil spill was found near the submersible’s location at 7:00 a.m. and two naval ships were deployed to assist the search.
First spokesman Admiral Julius Widjojono said the KRI Nanggala 402 submarine was participating in a torpedo drill exercise in the waters north of Bali and then lost contact.
“We are still looking in the waters of Bali, 96 kilometers from Bali, with 53 people,” said Mr. Tjahjanto.
The ministry said a total of 49 crew members, a ship commander and three weapons specialists were present on the submarine.
Before that, the submarine asked for permission to dive at 3 a.m. on Wednesday (April 21), then contact with the ship was lost at 4:30 a.m.
“After being licensed to dive according to the procedure, the ship lost contact and could no longer communicate”, the Ministry of Defense said. “A search has been conducted by other ships linked to the Special Forces Task Force.”
Four hours later, an oil slick was found at the start of the dive through aerial surveillance.
“It was possible that during the static dive, there was a power outage that resulted in loss of control and the emergency procedures could not be carried out and the ship fell to a depth of 600-700m,” the Indonesian Navy said in a statement.
The submarine was built to maintain pressure at a maximum depth of about 250 meters, an official said.
The oil slick on the surface could also mean its fuel tank was damaged or it could be a signal from the crew, Navy said.
The head of the military will hold a press conference with the media to share more information on Thursday’s search from Bali, a spokesman said.
Military analyst Soleman Ponto said it was too early to determine the fate of the submarine.
“We still do not know whether the communication equipment was damaged or the submarine was sunk. We have to wait at least three days, ”he said.
Several countries responded and were “ready to provide assistance”, including Singapore, Australia and India.
According to information on a website of TNI (Indonesian National Armed Forces), this submarine was built in Germany in 1981. The ship underwent a two-year refit process in Korea and was completed. in 2012.
Indonesia in the past operated a fleet of 12 submarines purchased from the Soviet Union to patrol the waters of its vast archipelago.
However, the country currently has only a fleet of five, including two German-built Type 209 submarines and three newer Korean ships.
Indonesia has been looking to upgrade its defense capabilities, but some of its equipment is still in use, and there have been fatal crashes involving aging military transport planes in the country. Lately year.