The Indonesian submarine that went missing Wednesday (21) with 53 people on board has oxygen until Saturday morning (24, Friday afternoon in Brazil) – meaning rescuers have less than 24 hours to find the crew still alive.
The information was made public Thursday (22) by the commander of the general staff of the navy of the country, Yudo Margono. According to him, the ship’s emergency supplies are expected to end at 3 a.m. on Saturday local time – 4 p.m. on Friday (23) in Brasilia.
Due to the critical situation, Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered a full effort to find the submarine. “I ordered the military commander, the naval chief of staff, the search and rescue agency and other agencies to send their best efforts to find and rescue the crew.”
The submarine, in service since 1981, disappeared Wednesday at 3 a.m. (local time), in the strait between the islands of Java and Bali. He lost contact with the authorities after requesting permission to dive.
In the area where the last signal was sent, the authorities detected an oil spill, north of the island of Bali. It is in this area that research is concentrated.
Six naval ships and a helicopter are participating in the operation. The oil slick can signal damage to the underwater tank, but it can also be a means of sending a distress message.
Military analysts, however, warned of the risk that the submarine would have broken if it sank 700 meters deep, as military authorities suggested the day before.
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.
Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton warned that the information available increased “fear of a terrible tragedy”. Several countries have offered assistance to Indonesia, including the United States, Australia, India, France and Germany. Neighboring Malaysia and Singapore have sent support boats.
The local navy suggested the possibility of an accident. “It is possible that there was a power cut, which left the submarine out of control and prevented the launch of emergency measures, sinking 600 or 700 meters,” said a military spokesman. .
The ship is capable of descending below 250 meters, according to French Vice-Admiral Antoine Beausssant, “but if it sank at 700 meters, there is a good chance that it broke,” he said. he added to the AFP news agency. Frank Owen, director of the Australian Submarine Institute, was pessimistic about the chances of a rescue. “If the submarine is at the bottom of the sea and the depth is great, there is little way to get the crew out,” he told Australian press.
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 sea routes contested by China and the United States and its allies, Indonesia is strategically vital in any political context of the Indo-Pacific.
In 2019, President Joko 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.