The four-day missing Indonesian submarine was found on Sunday (25) in the Bali Sea, divided into at least three parts and with all of its 53 crew members dead.
According to the announcement by Indonesian Army and Navy officials, rescuers found new items, including a life jacket, which they say are linked to KRI Nanggala-402. “Based on the evidence, it can be said that the KRI Nanggala sank and all of her crew are dead,” Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said at a press conference.
Yudo Margono, chief of staff of the navy, explained that the submarine is divided into three parts: the hull, the stern and the main part. According to him, the KRI Nanggala-402 was found with these separate parts, which may be due to the submarine being crushed by the pressure of the water due to the depth greater than it could. support. According to Margono, a sonar scan detected an object similar to the 850-meter-deep ship – the KRI Nanggala-402 is capable of descending about 250 meters.
Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia, confirmed the results of the search teams’ efforts and sent his condolences to the relatives of the victims, whom he described as “the best patriots”. “All of us Indonesians express our deep sorrow at this tragedy, especially to the families of the submarine crew,” he said.
On Saturday (24), objects and debris related to KRI Nanggala were found, which led the navy to believe that the submarine had cracked and to change the status from “missing” to “shipwrecked”. Several countries have offered aid to Indonesia by sending planes, helicopters and ships to help search teams, such as the United States, Australia, India, France, Germany, Malaysia and Singapore.
However, hopes of locating survivors of the wreckage were deemed minimal due to authorities’ estimates that oxygen supplies ran out as early as Friday (23).
Authorities have yet to give an official explanation for the crash, but say the submarine may have suffered a major electrical malfunction that prevented the crew from returning to the surface.
Underwater accidents, one of the most complex types of ships available to the Navy, are not uncommon. In 2017, Argentina lost ARA San Juan, which sank after an internal explosion unexplained to date. The most classic case is that of the Kursk, a Russian nuclear submarine that sank after an explosion in the torpedo compartment in 2000, at the dawn of the era of Vladimir Putin in power.
The KRI Nanggala-402 was built in Germany in 1978, according to a government website, and further modifications were made to modernize it. It’s a diesel submarine.
The ship belongs to the Cakra class, one of the many variations of the IKL-209 export line of ships. There is another in operation in the Indonesian Navy and two more of a more modern model manufactured under license in South Korea, the Jang Bogo class – called Nagapasa by Jakarta. There are three other such ships under construction.
Brazil operates five ships on the 209 line, four of the Tupi class and one of the Tikuna. Since 2009, it has changed partners and built four French Scorpène submarines. Her larger and modified Brazilian version is the Riachuelo class, and there are two at sea today – one at an advanced stage of testing, another recently launched.
Nanggala was modernized in South Korea, Indonesia’s military partner, in 2012. But its likely loss is another sign of the difficulties facing the country’s armed forces.
Situated at the center of the disputed sea routes by China and the United States and its allies, Indonesia is strategically vital in any political context of the Indo-Pacific.
In 2019, President Widodo sought to advance the war modernization agenda by placing a former rival, General Prabowo Subianto, as Minister of Defense. In the assessment of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a benchmark British body in this area, the effort has so far been slow.
“This could be a learning point for the government to advance its military technology and pay attention to how to use its existing technology as the lives of its people are at stake,” said Hein Ferdy Sentoso, 29, a resident of Banyuwangi, in East Java.
The people of the city, which is home to the naval base from which search and rescue operations are conducted, have joined national calls to speed up the modernization of the Indonesian defense forces.