Fears grow for crew of missing Indonesian submarine

Fears grow for crew inside missing Indonesian submarine as officials estimate oxygen supplies onboard would now have run out – as searches continue for the stricken vessel

  • Oxygen reserves on missing KRI Nanggala believed to have ran out at 8pm BST
  • TKRI Nanggala-402, carrying 53, vanished in 2,300ft waters near Bali this week
  • Experts says if sub went down below 2,296ft it would likely ‘have broken up’  
  • Submarine was torpedo drilling 60 miles north of the island of Bali at the time

More than 50 sailors aboard a missing Indonesian Navy submarine lost in the Bali Sea are feared dead as the vessel is believed to have run out of oxygen.

Rescue teams had been battling against time today to find the 44-year-old KRI Nanggala-402 which vanished on Wednesday as it prepared to conduct a torpedo drill.

If the submarine was still intact, officials said it would only have enough air to last until around 3am Saturday morning – 8pm Friday BST.

Oxygen levesl aboard the 44-year-old German made KRI Nanggala-402 are believed to have ran out at 3am local time- 8PM BST

A member of Indonesian Navy personnel walks past a map of the searching area for the submarine KRI Nanggala-402

An Indonesian air force pilot said six tonnes of equipment had been flown to a base to help with the search including underwater balloons to help lift a vessel.

Indonesia’s navy said it was investigating whether the submarine lost power during a dive and could not carry out emergency procedures as it descended to a depth of 600-700 metres, well beyond its survivable limits. 

Distraught relatives of the 53 seamen onboard are desperately awaiting news of their loved ones.

Berda Asmara, the wife of crew member Guntur Ari Prasetyo, 39, who has sailed on the Nanggala for 10 years, said: ‘I hope that they will be found alive.

A military officer looks at pictures of the crew members on the missing KRI Nanggala which is feared to have ran out of oxygen

Indonesian SAR Agency (BASARNAS) vessel arrive at pier Tanjung Wangi for the search of submarine KRI Nanggala 402

Indonesian Navy’s KRI Karel Satsuitubun-356 is seen while preparing to dock at Tanjung Wangi port, as it is being prepared for rescue operation of the KRI Nanggala-402

The KRI Alugoro seen yesterday as it helped search for the missing submarine which is feared to have been lost with all hands

‘We had a video call. He told me that he would go sailing and asked me to pray for him.’

On Friday, the Pentagon said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken with his Indonesian counterpart and offered additional support, which could include undersea search assets.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Thursday the ‘United States would do everything possible to support Indonesiaâs search and rescue effort,’ a spokeswoman said.

Two Australian Navy ships were heading for the search area including a frigate with special sonar capabilities, the defence department said.

Indonesia operates five submarines – two German-built Type 209s including Nanggala and three newer South Korean vessels.

The submarine was conducting a torpedo drill in waters 60 miles north of the island of Bali

The military said it picked up signs of an object with high magnetism at a depth of between 165 and 330 feet (50 and 100 metres)

Despite hopes for a miracle, an oil spill (pictured) spotted where the submarine was thought to have submerged pointed to possible fuel-tank damage

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.    

Late yesterday, the military said it picked up signs of an object with high magnetism at a depth of between 50 and 100 metres (165 and 330 feet).

Ships equipped with specialised tracking equipment were deployed in the hope that the object could be the KRI Nanggala 402.

Despite hopes for a miracle, an oil spill spotted where the submarine was thought to have submerged pointed to possible fuel-tank damage.

Yesterday, the US military said it would send airborne teams to help in the search, while Australia said two ships were on their way to assist.

Neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia have already dispatched ships that are expected to arrive at the weekend, including the city-state’s MV Swift Rescue – a submarine rescue vessel.

Officers prepare a helicopter before taking part in the search operation for the missing Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala

Berda Asmara is married to Guntur Ari Prasetyo, 39, who had been expected to return home from the submarine training mission at the weekend

India said Thursday it had sent a ship to assist in the hunt.

‘If there is serious damage on the boat itself, it could potentially mean a few things, for example, there will be very limited spaces for the crew with very limited oxygen,’ said Collin Koh, a naval affairs specialist and research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

A hydro-oceanographic survey ship equipped with underwater detection capabilities also was on its way to the torpedo drilling site, where an oil slick was found. 

Margono said the oil slick may have been caused by a crack in the submarine’s tank after the vessel sank. 

Indonesia’s navy said it was possible an electrical failure occurred during the dive, causing the submarine to lose control and become unable to undertake emergency procedures that would have allowed it to resurface. 

Indonesian rescue workers (above) search for the missing submarine as Navy chiefs fear the worst.

Indonesian marines are out in full force to track down the submarine that has sparked an international rescue operation

French navy vice admiral Antoine Beaussant has warned that the submarine was not built to withstand such a depth. 

‘If it went down to rest at 700 metres the likelihood is it would have broken up,’ he said. 700 metres is around 2,296ft. The submarine is only built to withstand depths of up to 820ft below sea-level. 

Indonesian rescuers searching for a missing Navy submarine have found an oil spill near the vessel’s dive location in the waters off Bali. 

Officials fear the vessel sank to the bottom of a trough with a depth of 2,300ft during a torpedo military exercise. The navy has deployed a number of warships to search for the missing crew.  

Frank Owen, secretary of the Submarine Institute of Australia, also said the submarine could be at too great a depth for a rescue team to operate.

‘Most rescue systems are really only rated to about 1,970ft (600m),’ he said. ‘They can go deeper than that because they will have a safety margin built into the design, but the pumps and other systems that are associated with that may not have the capacity to operate. So they can survive at that depth, but not necessarily operate.’

Owen, a former submariner who developed an Australian submarine rescue system, said the Indonesian vessel was not fitted with a rescue seat around an escape hatch designed for underwater rescues. 

He said a rescue submarine would make a waterproof connection to a disabled submarine with a so-called skirt fitted over the rescue seat so that the hatch can be opened without the disabled submarine filling with water.

Owen said the submarine could be recovered from 1,640ft (500m) without any damage but couldn’t say if it would have imploded at 2,300ft (700m). 

The Malaysian Navy have provided a submarine rescue ship, the MV Mega Bakti, to help find the KRI Nanggala near the island of Bali

The marines (above) patrolling the waters will be supported by ships from Singapore and Malaya

The Indonesian Rescue Agency are part of the hunt for the vanished submarine 

The hunt for Nanggala-402: Rescuers prepare to set off from Bali on a search mission with 53 submarine crew members missing

The fate of the 53 sailors hangs in the balance as Indonesian marines search for the missing submarine  

An aerial search by a helicopter found an oil spill in waters where the submarine (file photo) was thought to have submerged

In 2018, authorities found the wreckage of a missing Argentine submarine that had gone missing a year earlier.

Crushed from an implosion, the ARA San Juan was located at a depth of more than 3,000ft (900m) in a desolate area of undersea craters and canyons 250 miles (400km) off the coast of Argentina.

The accident took the lives of 44 sailors.

Then, in 2019, a French submarine that went missing in the western Mediterranean over 50 years ago was found.

The diesel-electric Minerve submarine was lost off France’s southern coast with 52 sailors on board on January 27, 1968.

The Minerve was on a training mission in bad weather when it went down while returning to its base in Toulon, France’s main Mediterranean naval port.

Experts have speculated that the disaster was caused by a problem with the Minerve’s rudder, a collision with another boat, the explosion of a missile or torpedo, or a fault with its oxygen supply systems. 

Missing Naggala 402 

Age: 44 years after being built in 1977

Top speed: 25 knots (46 km/hr)

Range: 8,200 nautical miles (15,200 km)

Maximum diving depth: 843ft  

Weight: 1,395 tons

Length: 65 yards

Fuel: Powered by four electric deisel engines 

Armaments: 14 torpedoes located in eight tubes. It is also equipped with a CSU-3-2 suite type sonar

Built in: Lübeck, Germany    

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