Missing Indonesian submarine believed sunk as debris is found, Navy says

(CNN) — Indonesia’s Navy changed the status of its missing submarine from “sub miss” to “sub sank” on Saturday, as a naval chief presented debris believed to be from the vessel at a news conference.

Authorities now expect to carry out an evacuation process to recover the KRI Nanggala-402 submarine and its crew when they pinpoint its exact location, Indonesian Navy Chief of Staff Yudo Margono said.

The latest update came as hopes faded for the 53 crew members, who were expected to have run out of oxygen early on Saturday. So far, no sign of them has been found, Yudo said.

Some warships deployed to the Bali Sea, where the submarine was last contacted Wednesday, will be used to help find the vessel by detecting metal or magnetic objects in the sea, Yudo said.

Six pieces of debris believed to be from the submarine were presented to journalists at the news conference. The items were found about two miles from the spot where the submarine started to dive before it went missing, Yudo said, and included a bottle of grease, part of a torpedo launcher, part of a metal tube, prayer mats and fuel.

The debris was found floating at a location where the sea is 850 meters (930 yards) deep.

People who were on a previous mission on the KRI Nanggala-402 submarine confirmed that some of the debris belonged to the submarine, the navy chief of staff said. The bottle of grease matches what the crew would use to lubricate the submarine’s periscope.

Yudo said an explosion was not believed to have occurred on the submarine but that heavy pressure on the vessel might have a created a crack through which some items escaped.

 

Hi-tech capabilities

Indonesian search teams said Friday they had identified an area where the submarine could be located.

The area of interest is about 40 kilometers (approximately 25 miles) north of Bali, where oil had been spotted on the surface of the water near the dive point, and where an object likely to have come from the submarine was detected, according to Maj. Gen. Achmad Riad, the head of the military’s central information unit.

A naval vessel detected an object with “strong magnetic resonance” at a depth of 50 to 100 meters (164 to 328 feet), Riad told a news conference Friday, and the navy expects its warship, the Riguel, to reach the search area Friday.

The Riguel is equipped with sonar, which uses sound waves to locate objects, and the navy hopes it can find the KRI Nanggala-402, a German-made submarine that lost contact during a military exercise in the Bali Strait early on Wednesday morning.

More ships with high-tech capabilities also joined the search efforts Friday, creating a search team consisting of 21 Indonesian warships, a submarine and additional vessels from Indonesia’s police and rescue department.

Two Australian warships have also joined the search efforts.

“HMA Ships Ballarat and Sirius, both presently at sea on separate regional deployments, are making best speed for the search area,” Australia’s Defense Department said in a press release Friday.

Rear Adm. Mark Hammond, of the Australian task force, added that his thoughts were with the submariners of KRI Nanggala, their families and the Indonesian people. “As always, we stand ready to assist our fellow mariners in the Indonesian Navy,” he said.

The United States is also sending aircraft to assist in the search for the missing submarine.

Three C-17 aircraft were expected to depart Dover Air Force Base Friday with watercraft and underwater search and rescue gear.

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