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Indonesia submarine KRI Nanggala-402 perform Sailing Pass during the preparation for the anniversary of Indonesia Military on September 25, 2014
The KRI Nanggala-402 was built in West Germany in in the late 1970sImage: Alex Widojo/AA/picture alliance

Indonesia: Missing submarine has oxygen for 72 hours — navy

Alistair Walsh
April 22, 2021

Dozens of people are on board Indonesia's KRI Nanggala-402 submarine that has gone missing. Officials believe the vessel, designed to dive to up to 500 meters, might be some 700 meters underwater.


Indonesia’s missing submarine with 53 people on board has enough oxygen for 72 hours, the Navy said on Thursday. 

Authorities are searching for the KRI Nanggala-402 submarine which stopped responding early Wednesday. 

The vessel is believed to be 700 meters underwater, according to the Navy.  

"It is designed to dive to depths of 250-500 meters. Beyond that it's dangerous," Navy spokesman Admiral Julius Widjojono was quoted as saying by DPA news agency.   

What we know so far:

The vessel went missing while conducting a torpedo drill. 

Members of National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) prepare to search for the missing submarine in Bali, Indonesia.
The crew aboard the missing Indonesian submarine has enough oxygen to last until SaturdayImage: Firdia Lisnawati/AP/picture alliance

"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 meters," the Navy said in a statement.

Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) Commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto earlier told national paper Kompas that the submarine disappeared in waters about 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of the island of Bali.   

The search teams have found a source of magnetism at a depth of between 50 and 100 meters. This indicates that the submarine could be in the waters between the islands of Bali and Java, authorities said on Thursday.

Officials said that an oil spill had been discovered near the vessel's last known position.  

It is one of five submarines owned by the Indonesian armed forces and was built in West Germany in 1978.  

Indonesia asks for help   

Indonesia has requested the help of Australia and Singapore in finding the submarine. Indonesian paper Republika reported that the TNI had deployed all ships with underwater search capabilities to help find the missing vessel.  

Singapore's Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Twitter that the country's submarine rescue vessel, MV Swift Rescue, was sent off with a medical team on Wednesday afternoon. 

"We operate very different submarines from this one," Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne told ABC radio on Thursday, but added that Australia's defense forces "will work with defense operations in Indonesia to determine what we may be able to do."    

Experts contradict government on maximum depth

Ahn Guk-hyeon, an official from South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, told the Associated Press that the submarine would collapse if it goes deeper than around 200 meters because of pressure.

He added that his company upgraded much of Indonesia's submarine's internal structures and systems, however, it lacked the latest information about the vessel.

The 43-year-old vessel has less sinking abilities than it did when it was first built, submarine expert Wisnu Wardhana told DW.

"The ship was designed to sink up to 300 meters," he said, adding that it was reduced over time "maybe to only 200 meters."

"We have to keep improving the engine that hasn't been replaced for a long time... We should not force 80 years of technology to serve us."

Malaysian Defense Ministry's MV Mega Bakti submarine rescue ship departs from the Sepanggar Bay naval base in Sabah, Malaysia.
Neighboring countries rushed their rescue ships to support the complex operationImage: Malaysian Defense Ministry/AP/picture alliance

Navy chief Yudo Margono said the submarine was in good condition. "It was ready for battle," he told a press conference.

Indonesia's Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto acknowledged it was "imperative that we should modernize our defense equipment faster." But he did not suggest there were any issues with the missing submarine.

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