Indonesia’s sunken submarine: All you need to know in 500 words

After a 3-day search, all 53 crew on board the sunken KRI Nanggala-402 were declared dead.

The 44-year-old German-made submarine was conducting a torpedo drill in waters north of the island of Bali [Indonesia military/AFP]
The 44-year-old German-made submarine was conducting a torpedo drill in waters north of the island of Bali [Indonesia military/AFP]

Indonesia’s navy has located a submarine that went missing on Wednesday off the coast of Bali.

The submarine was found cracked apart on the seafloor in waters off Bali, the military said on Sunday, as it confirmed that all 53 crew on board were dead.

“There were parts of KRI Nanggala 402 – it was broken into three pieces,” said Navy Chief of Staff Yudo Margono.

Indonesian military head Hadi Tjahjanto, meanwhile, told reporters that “all 53 personnel onboard have passed.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said earlier on Sunday that he had sent his condolences to the families of the 53 crew.

“The army and navy have changed the status of the KRI Nanggala 402 submarine from having lost contact to being ‘sub-sunk’ or drowned,” he told reporters.

“All of us Indonesians express our deep sorrow over this tragedy, especially to the families of the submarine crew.”

The 44-year-old 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.

Search teams said on Saturday they had found objects including prayer mat fragments and a bottle of periscope lubricant near the submarine’s last known location.

Navy Chief of Staff Yudo Margono said on Saturday that a sonar scan had detected a submarine-like object at 850 metres (2,790 feet) beyond the Nanggala’s diving range.

Possible evacuation

More than a dozen helicopters and ships had been searching the area where contact was lost, with the United States, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and India providing assistance.

Throughout the days-long search, family members held out hope.

The vessel was scheduled to conduct training exercises when it asked for permission to dive. It lost contact shortly after.

The cause of the disappearance is still uncertain. The navy has said an electrical failure could have left the submarine unable to execute emergency procedures to resurface.

Authorities warned any salvage operation would be risky and difficult in the deep waters, adding that it was unlikely that there was an explosion on board the submarine.

Southeast Asia’s most-populous country has sought to revamp its military capability, yet some equipment is still old and there have been fatal accidents in recent years.

Indonesia had five submarines before the latest accident: two German-built Type 209s including Nanggala and three newer South Korean vessels.

The country, the world’s largest archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands, has faced growing challenges to its maritime claims in recent years, including numerous incidents involving Chinese vessels near the Natuna Islands.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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