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Missing Indonesian submarine ‘may never be found’ after sinking ‘too deep’

3 min read

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A missing Indonesian submarine is feared to have sunk too deep to ever be found, according to experts.

The KRI Nanggala 402 vessel went missing early on Wednesday during a torpedo drill in waters north of the island of Bali.

There are concerns the crew members will soon run out of oxygen.

A frantic rescue operation has been launched to find the missing sub and save the 53 crew members.

Defence chiefs warned their oxygen supply would only last until Saturday.

The ship is believed to have had an electrical failure during the dive which may have caused it to lose control, preventing it from resurfacing.

Navy spokesman Julius Widjojono said the diesel-powered submarine that runs on electric batteries while submerged could sustain a depth of 250-500 metres (820-1,640ft).

He said: “Anything more than that can be pretty fatal, dangerous.”

Ryan Ramsey, a former nuclear sub commander, told the Sun it was “very unlikely” the ship would be found if something has happened.

The water where the vessel went missing is nearly a mile deep, which would hinder the “chances of finding survivors”, he added.

Officials said an aerial search found an oil spill near the dive location, and two navy vessels with sonar capability had been deployed to assist in the search.

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The oil slick could indicate damage to the vessel or could be a signal from the crew, the navy said.

Frank Owen, secretary of the Submarine Institute of Australia, warned the vessel may have plunged too deep to retrieve.

Most rescue systems only really work above around 600 metres (1,969ft), he explained.

He added although they can go deeper, the pumps and other systems may not have the capacity to operate at that level, Metro reports.

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Indonesia sent a helicopter and five ships to search the waters but found no signs of the 1,395-tonne vessel, which was built in Germany in 1977.

Several countries responded to requests for assistance, with Malaysia and Singapore sending ships and Australia offering "help in any way we can”.

Indonesian’s President, Joko Widodo, said: “I have ordered the military chief, navy chief of staff, the search and rescue agency and other instances to deploy all the forces and the most optimal efforts to find and rescue the submarine crew.

“The main priority is the safety of the 53 crew members.’'

Yudo Margono, the navy chief of staff, said the search was being aided by calm conditions.

He added: “Hopefully before they can be found, the oxygen will be enough.”

The vessel had been cleared for use and was in good condition, he claimed.

The submarine joined the Indonesian fleet in 1981 and had a two-year refit in South Korea that was completed in 2012.

  • Military
  • Missing Person

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