Submarine missing off Bali with 53 on board, says Indonesian military
Submarine missing off Bali with 53 on board, says Indonesian military

Submarine missing with 53 on board

Australia is helping the Indonesian navy search for a submarine that has gone missing off the coast of Bali with 53 people on board.

The country's military said it was searching the "deep" waters after losing contact with the vessel on Wednesday.

"The KRI Nanggala 402 lost contact early this morning," said First Admiral Julius Widjojono.

"(The navy) is currently searching for it. We know the area but it's quite deep."

The German-made submarine had been conducting a torpedo drill in waters off the northern coast of Bali but failed to relay results as expected, a navy spokesman said.

Indonesia's Defence Ministry said in a statement that Australia, Singapore and India had responded to requests for assistance.

It said that an aerial search had found an oil spill near the submarine's dive location and two navy vessels with sonar capability have been deployed to assist in the search.

The oil spill could mean there was damage to the vessel's fuel tank or could be a signal from the crew, the Indonesian navy said in a statement. The submarine was built to sustain pressure at a maximum depth of around 250 metres, according to an official.

"It is possible that during static diving, a blackout occurred so control was lost and emergency procedures cannot be carried out and the ship falls to a depth of 600-700 metres," the navy said.

 

The navy sent out a distress call to the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) at about 09.37am to report the boat missing, with the presumption that it had sunk, according to Janes news agency.

Some reports said that contact was lost after the submarine had been given clearance to dive into deeper waters.

Indonesia's military chief Hadi Tjahjanto told AFP that there were 53 crew aboard the vessel, which was believed to be in waters about 700 metres deep.

The military chief told Reuters that contact with the submarine was lost at around 4.30am local time. He said Indonesia's navy had dispatched warships to the area and they were searching for the submarine in waters 96 kilometres to the north of Bali.

Military analyst Soleman Ponto said it would take several days to ascertain whether communication equipment broke or sank.

"We don't know yet whether the communication equipments were broken or the submarine has sunken. We have to wait for at least three days," he told Reuters.

"The worst nightmare for a submariner is when you hear about a boat gone missing," wrote former Indian navy submariner Ashok Bijalwan. "Praying for early return of KRI Nanggala-402 with all 53 safe and secure."

The 60m-long, 1,395-tonne submarine was built in Germany in 1978 and underwent a two-year refit in South Korea that was completed in 2012, according to the Indonesian cabinet secretariat's website.

Indonesia once had a fleet of 12 submarines purchased from the Soviet Union to patrol its waters, but now has just five, including two German-built Type 209 submarines and three newer South Korean vessels.

The country has been working to upgrade its defence capabilities but some of its equipment is ageing and there have been deadly accidents involving military transport planes in recent years.

British former nuclear sub commander Ryan Ramsey told The Sun: "If something has happened it is very unlikely that the Nanggala-402 will be found.

"The fact that she hasn't touched base during a routine communications window also suggests that she has been lost."

He said that normally if there was problem, the vessel would surface. "So either they've not been able to surface the submarine or something very dramatic has happened instantaneously."

 

- With AFP

 

 

Originally published as Submarine missing with 53 on board