Missing Indonesian submarine believed 700 metres underwater

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Indonesia

An Indonesian military submarine that went missing off Bali with 53 people on board is believed to be 700 metres underwater, the navy said on Thursday.

The German-made KRI Nanggala-402 lost contact about 95 kilometres north of Bali in the early hours of Wednesday during a torpedo attack exercise, officials said.

“We suspect it is at a depth of 600-700 metres, Navy spokesman Julius Widjojono said.

“It is designed to dive to depths of 250-500 metres. Beyond that it’s dangerous,’’ he said.

Widjojono said the fuel tank might have been damaged by water pressure.

Four naval ships were involved in the search and two others – including one from Malaysia were on the way, he said.

The fate of the submarine’s 53 crew members is still unknown.

The Defence Ministry said late on Wednesday that aerial surveillance by a helicopter found an oil spill in the location where the submarine was last detected.

Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the country’s submarine rescue vessel, MV Swift Rescue, was dispatched with a medical team on Wednesday afternoon following a request from the Indonesian navy.

“The site for search operations, near Bali, is more than 1,500 km away and waters are deep, which is why MV Swift Rescue sailed off as soon as she could,’’ he said.

The military said it had also sought the help of Australia.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne told Sky News her country was moving to help, but said Australia operates very different submarines from the one that is missing.

“There is no question that submarine search and rescue is very complex.

“Whatever we are able to do, we have undertaken to do,’’ Payne said.

The Indonesian military has five submarines, including the missing one. Two of the submarines were out of service, the military said last year.

The Nanggala-402 was built by German company Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft in Kiel in the late 1970s.

Last month, South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) supplied the last of three submarines ordered by the Indonesian military.

That submarine was the first to be assembled locally in Indonesia by the state-owned shipbuilding company PT PAL, the government said.

Indonesia plans to acquire eight more by 2024.

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