JAKARTA (REUTERS, AFP) : Indonesia’s navy is searching for a missing submarine with 53 people on board that went missing on Wednesday (April 21) and is seeking help from neighbouring Australia and Singapore in the hunt, the Indonesian military chief told Reuters.
The German-made submarine, KRI Nanggala-402, was conducting a torpedo drill in waters north of the island of Bali but failed to relay the results as expected, a navy spokesman said.
“We are still searching in the waters of Bali, 60 miles (96km) from Bali, (for) 53 people,” military chief Hadi Tjahjanto told Reuters in a text message.
The military chief confirmed that assistance in the search for the submarine and missing crew members had been sought from Australia and Singapore. He said that contact with the vessel was lost at 4.30am on Wednesday.
He said there were 53 crew aboard the vessel, which was believed to be in waters about 700 metres deep.
“It’s true that the KRI Nanggala-402 lost contact since early this morning at around 3am,” said First Admiral Julius Widjojono. “(The navy) is currently searching for it. We know the area but it’s quite deep.”
Representatives of the defence ministries of Australia and Singapore did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The 1,395-tonne KRI Nanggala-402 was built in Germany in 1978, according to the Indonesian Cabinet secretariat’s website, and underwent a two-year refit in South Korea that 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 sprawling archipelago.
But now it has a fleet of only five, including two German-built Type 209 submarines and three newer South Korean vessels.
Indonesia has been seeking to upgrade its defence capabilities but some of its equipment that is still in service is old. In recent years, there have been deadly accidents involving, in particular, ageing military transport planes.
THE STRAITS TIMES