Indonesia’s navy says items have been found from a missing submarine, indicating the vessel with 53 crew members has sunk with no hope of finding survivors.
- The search and rescue effort uncovered items including a grease bottle and prayer rugs
- Indonesia’s navy chief said those looking for the submarine are now operating as if it has sunk
- Officals said the crew ran out of oxygen early on Saturday
Navy Chief Yudo Margono said rescuers found several items including parts of a torpedo straightener, a grease bottle believed to be used to oil the periscope and prayer rugs from the submarine.
“With the authentic evidence we found believed to be from the submarine, we have now moved from the ‘sub missing’ phase to ‘sub sunk’,” Admiral Margono said at a press conference in Bali where the found items were displayed.
Officials said oxygen supply for its 53 crew ran out early on Saturday and there was no hope of finding any survivors. Among those presumed deceased is Indonesia’s submarine fleet commander, Harry Setiawan.
The 44-year-old KRI Nanggala 402disappeared as it prepared to conduct a torpedo drill on Wednesday.
Sub found at depth beyond survivable limits
In recent days, search parties included Australian, American, Singaporean and Malaysian craft alongside those of Indonesia’s.
The search focused on an area near the starting position of its last dive where an oil slick was found but there was no conclusive evidence so far the oil slick was from the sub.
But Mr Yudo said a scan had detected the submarine at 850 metres, well beyond its survivable limits of 500 metres.
Indonesia military spokesperson Djawara Whimbo said Indonesia’s hydrographic vessel was still unable to detect an unidentified object exhibiting high magnetism that was earlier detected located at a depth of 50 to 100 metres.
“Now it’ll be up to the investigators to establish the chronology of events and determine the cause,” said Collin Koh, research fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies.
“At the same time, plans would have been made to assess the feasibility of retrieving the submarine at such extreme depth.
“It’s technically possible to do it, though I believe Indonesia will have to engage foreign assistance in this.”
Cause of accident still unknown
The cause of the disappearance is still uncertain, but the navy has said an electrical failure could have left the submarine unable to execute emergency procedures to resurface.
This theory is shared by retired Indonesian Navy rear admiral Frans Wuwung, who had worked on the same vessel, and said he experienced a blackout on the submarine in 1985.
“A blackout means the vessel’s equipment cannot be moved,” the admiral told Indonesia’s MetroTV.
Mr Yudo, meanwhile, suggested that oil could have spilled from a crack in the submarine’s fuel tank or the crew could have released fuel and fluids to reduce the vessel’s weight so it could surface.
Prior to the incident, Indonesia operated five submarines — two German-built Type 209s including Nanggala and three newer South Korean vessels.
It has been seeking to modernise its defence capabilities but some of its equipment is old and there have been fatal accidents in recent years.Youtube The World: Desperate search for missing Indonesian submarine