Missing Indonesian submarine has just a few hours of oxygen left

Missing Indonesian submarine has just a few hours of oxygen left as rescue teams hone in on radar contact with unidentified object in hope of miracle

  • Oxygen reserves on the missing KRI Nanggala will run out at 3am local time tomorrow, officials have said 
  • Rescuers discovered an object with a high magnetism between 165ft and 300ft beneath the surface
  • The KRI Nanggala-402 submarine vanished in 2,300ft waters near Bali on Wednesday along with 53 sailors 
  • Fears are growing amid a desperate search that the German-made vessel may have sunk too low to save 
  • French navy vice admiral says if submarine went down below 2,296ft it would likely ‘have broken up’  
  • Submarine was torpedo drilling 60 miles north of the island of Bali, rescuers found an oil spill at the site 

Oxygen reserves on a missing Indonesian submarine have just hours left before running out as officials from the country desperately hone in on a signal received from an unidentified object today.

The ramped-up hunt comes as Australia and the United States are set to join the search off the coast of Bali where the sub disappeared more than two days ago during training exercises.

Late yesterday, the military said it picked up signs of an object with high magnetism at a depth of between 50 and 100 metres (165 and 330 feet).

Ships equipped with specialised tracking equipment were deployed in the hope that the object could be the KRI Nanggala 402, which was equipped with oxygen reserves that could last until around 3am local time on Saturday (8pm BST), authorities said.

Oxygen reserves on an missing Indonesian submarine have just hours left before running out as officials from the country desperately hone in on a signal received from an unidentified object today. Pictured: The Indonesian submarine KRI Alugoro searches for the missing KRI Nanggala yesterday

Despite hopes for a miracle, an oil spill (pictured) spotted where the submarine was thought to have submerged pointed to possible fuel-tank damage

Late yesterday, the military said it picked up signs of an object with high magnetism at a depth of between 50 and 100 metres (165 and 330 feet)

‘We’ve only got until 3.00am tomorrow (Saturday) so we’re maximising all of our efforts today,’ said Indonesian military spokesman Achmad Riad.

‘Hopefully there will be a bright spot.’

Berda Asmara is married to Guntur Ari Prasetyo, 39, who had been expected to return home from the submarine training mission at the weekend.

‘Our last communication was on Monday when he was going to work,’ the mother of one told AFP in Surabaya, a port city in Java.

‘He said “pray for me that I’ll come home soon”… He told our daughter to listen to me and study hard.’

Ships equipped with specialised tracking equipment were deployed in the hope that the object could be the KRI Nanggala 402 (pictured), which was equipped with oxygen reserves that could last until around 3am local time on Saturday (8pm BST)

On Thursday, the US military said it would send airborne teams to help in the search, while Australia said two ships were on their way to assist. Pictured: A military officer looks at pictures of the crew members on the missing KRI Nanggala

Pictured: Officers prepare a helicopter before taking part in the search operation for the missing Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala

Despite hopes for a miracle, an oil spill spotted where the submarine was thought to have submerged pointed to possible fuel-tank damage.

Yesterday, the US military said it would send airborne teams to help in the search, while Australia said two ships were on their way to assist.

Neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia have already dispatched ships that are expected to arrive at the weekend, including the city-state’s MV Swift Rescue – a submarine rescue vessel.

India said Thursday it had sent a ship to assist in the hunt.

‘If there is serious damage on the boat itself, it could potentially mean a few things, for example, there will be very limited spaces for the crew with very limited oxygen,’ said Collin Koh, a naval affairs specialist and research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

‘It could also mean that the reserve tanks for the oxygen might potentially be damaged as well. So it will further reduce the oxygen level.’

Submarines are equipped to prevent carbon dioxide buildup, but if the equipment was damaged that could also pose a serious risk, Koh added.

‘It’s not just about whether there will be enough oxygen, but it’s also about the level of carbon dioxide within the interior that could determine the fate of the submariners,’ he said.

Yesterday, rescuers searching for an Indonesian submarine have found an unidentified object with high magnetism at a depth of 165 to 330ft (50 to 100 metres) that officials hope is the missing vessel. 

Indonesian navy ships were today continuing to scour the seas off Bali amid fears the sub may have sunk too deep to save after it went missing in 2,300ft waters on Wednesday.  

Berda Asmara (pictured) is married to Guntur Ari Prasetyo, 39, who had been expected to return home from the submarine training mission at the weekend

She said that her last communication with her husband had been on Monday when he asked her to pray for his safe return

Authorities said oxygen in the submarine would run out by early Saturday, making it a race against time to find the 53 sailors on board.  

The German-made KRI Nanggala-402 was conducting a torpedo drill in waters 60 miles north of the island of Bali but failed to relay the results as expected, prompting an international search operation. 

Indonesian Navy Chief of Staff Yudo Margono has said the sailors have enough oxygen to last them until 3am on Saturday. 

‘The submarine’s oxygen reserve capacity in a blackout is 72 hours’, Margono told reporters. ‘There’s time until Saturday around 3am. Let’s hope we can find them before then.’ 

But a glimmer of hope had emerged, he said, after authorities found an item with ‘high magnetic force’ floating at a depth of 165 to 330ft.

The military said more than 20 navy ships, two submarines and five aircraft were searching the area where the submarine was last detected.    

Indonesian rescue workers (above) search for the missing submarine as Navy chiefs fear the worst.

The German-made KRI Nanggala-402 submarine (file photo of the submarine) is missing with 53 sailors on board

Indonesian marines are out in full force to track down the submarine that has sparked an international rescue operation

A hydro-oceanographic survey ship equipped with underwater detection capabilities also was on its way to the torpedo drilling site, where an oil slick was found. 

Margono said the oil slick may have been caused by a crack in the submarine’s tank after the vessel sank. 

Indonesia’s navy said it was possible an electrical failure occurred during the dive, causing the submarine to lose control and become unable to undertake emergency procedures that would have allowed it to resurface. 

French navy vice admiral Antoine Beaussant has warned that the submarine was not built to withstand such a depth. 

‘If it went down to rest at 700 metres the likelihood is it would have broken up,’ he said. 700 metres is around 2,296ft. The submarine is only built to withstand depths of up to 820ft below sea-level. 

Indonesian rescuers searching for a missing Navy submarine have found an oil spill near the vessel’s dive location in the waters off Bali. 

Officials fear the vessel sank to the bottom of a trough with a depth of 2,300ft during a torpedo military exercise. The navy has deployed a number of warships to search for the missing crew.  

Frank Owen, secretary of the Submarine Institute of Australia, also said the submarine could be at too great a depth for a rescue team to operate.

‘Most rescue systems are really only rated to about 1,970ft (600m),’ he said. ‘They can go deeper than that because they will have a safety margin built into the design, but the pumps and other systems that are associated with that may not have the capacity to operate. So they can survive at that depth, but not necessarily operate.’

Owen, a former submariner who developed an Australian submarine rescue system, said the Indonesian vessel was not fitted with a rescue seat around an escape hatch designed for underwater rescues. 

He said a rescue submarine would make a waterproof connection to a disabled submarine with a so-called skirt fitted over the rescue seat so that the hatch can be opened without the disabled submarine filling with water.

Owen said the submarine could be recovered from 1,640ft (500m) without any damage but couldn’t say if it would have imploded at 2,300ft (700m). 

Indonesia Navy submarine KRI Alugoro takes part in the search for KRI Nanggala, another submarine that went missing on Wednesday

The Malaysian Navy have provided a submarine rescue ship, the MV Mega Bakti, to help find the KRI Nanggala near the island of Bali

Indonesian warship Suharso prepares the join the search for the missing submarine, over 24 hours after it went missing, as fears mount for the 53 sailors on board 

Navy spokesman Julius Widjojono said on Thursday that search teams were focused on an area around the oil slick, but that the exact location of the vessel had yet to be pinpointed. 

‘It has not been found yet,’ Widjojono said. ‘But we’ve detected the area…Today, around 400 personnel have been deployed.’

Six warships and a helicopter have been sent out to look for the sub, the navy said.  

‘We are obviously very concerned about these reports. It’s very distressing for families and particularly for the Indonesian navy,’ Australian foreign minister Marise Payne told broadcaster ABC. 

‘We’ve indicated that we will help in any way we can.’  

Indonesian President Joko Widodo asked all of the country’s people to pray that the submarine and crew could be found.

‘Our main priority is the safety of the 53 crew members,’ Widodo said in a televised address. ‘To the families of the crew members, I can understand your feelings and we are doing our best to save all of the crew members on board.’

The marines (above) patrolling the waters will be supported by ships from Singapore and Malaya

The Indonesian Rescue Agency are part of the hunt for the vanished submarine 

The 44-year-old submarine had asked for permission to dive to conduct the live torpedo exercises. 

‘After permission was given according to the procedure, the submarine lost contact and could not be reached,’ Indonesia’s Defence Ministry said. 

An aerial search by a helicopter later found an oil spill in waters where the submarine was thought to have submerged. The navy deployed two vessels with sonar  capability to assist the hunt, the ministry said.

The navy requested help from other nations with submarine rescue vessels and Australia, Singapore and India have responded, the ministry said in a statement.   

Rescue ships from Singapore and Malaysia are expected to arrive between Saturday and Monday. The Indonesian military said Australia, the United States, Germany, France, Russia, India and Turkey have also offered assistance. South Korea said it has also offered help.

‘The news of the missing submarine is deeply concerning,’ Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said during a visit to New Zealand. ‘We will provide any assistance that we can. There’s no question that submarine search and rescues are very complex.’

Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton called the incident ‘a terrible tragedy.’ He told Sydney Radio 2GB that the fact that the submarine is ‘in a very deep part of waters’ makes it ‘very difficult for the recovery or for location.’

‘Our fervent prayers and hopes go out to the crew of KRI Nanggala, for their safety and resilience,’ Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen wrote on Facebook. 

There are fears the submarine is not able to withstand depths as low as 2,296ft without ‘breaking up’

The hunt for Nanggala-402: Rescuers prepare to set off from Bali on a search mission with 53 submarine crew members missing

The submarine was conducting a torpedo drill in waters 60 miles north of the island of Bali

TNI Commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said contact with the submarine was lost at around 4.30am local time on Wednesday morning.  

‘We are still searching in the waters of Bali, 60 miles from Bali, (for) 53 people,’ military chief Hadi Tjahjanto told Reuters in a text message. 

He added: ‘Tomorrow I will immediately go to the location.’  

The military chief confirmed that assistance in the search for the submarine and missing crew members had been sought from Australia and Singapore. 

Representatives of the defence departments of the two countries did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Commander Marshal Tjahjanto will hold a media briefing to share further information about the search on Thursday from Bali, a spokesman said. 

An oil spill in the area of the submarine could be responsible for the disappearance, as marines continue the hunt

Indonesian marine police (above) preparing to join the search for the missing submarine 

Missing Naggala 402 

Age: 44 years after being built in 1977

Top speed: 25 knots (46 km/hr)

Range: 8,200 nautical miles (15,200 km)

Maximum diving depth: 843ft  

Weight: 1,395 tons

Length: 65 yards

Fuel: Powered by four electric deisel engines 

Armaments: 14 torpedos located in eight tubes. It is also equipped with a CSU-3-2 suite type sonar

Built in: Lübeck, Germany    

Military analyst Soleman Ponto said it is too early to determine the fate of the submarine conclusively. 

‘We don’t know yet whether the communication equipments were broken or the submarine has sunken. We have to wait for at least three days,’ he said. 

The 1,395-tonne KRI Nanggala-402 was built in Germany in 1977, according to the defense ministry, and joined Indonesian fleet in 1981. It underwent a two-year refit in South Korea that was completed in 2012. 

Indonesia in the past operated a fleet of 12 submarines purchased from the Soviet Union to patrol the waters of its sprawling archipelago.

But now it has a fleet of only five including two German-built Type 209 submarines and three newer South Korean vessels.

Indonesia has been seeking to modernise its defence capabilities but some of its equipment still in service is old and there have been deadly accidents in recent years.

In 2016, an Indonesian air force transport plane crashed into a mountain, killing all 13 people board, during a training exercise in the remote region of Papua.

In 2015, an Indonesian military transport plane crashed into a northern residential area two minutes after takeoff, killing more than 100 people.

While the Southeast Asian archipelago has not previously suffered a major submarine disaster, other countries have been struck by accidents in the past.

Among them was the horrific sinking in 2000 of the Kursk, the pride of Russia’s Northern Fleet.

The submarine was on manoeuvres in the Barents Sea on August 12, 2000 when it sank with the loss of all 118 aboard. An inquiry found a torpedo had exploded, detonating all the others.

The fate of the 53 sailors hangs in the balance as Indonesian marines search for the missing submarine  

An aerial search by a helicopter found an oil spill in waters where the submarine (file photo) was thought to have submerged

In 2018, authorities found the wreckage of a missing Argentine submarine that had gone missing a year earlier.

Crushed from an implosion, the ARA San Juan was located at a depth of more than 900 metres (3,000 feet) in a desolate area of undersea craters and canyons 400 kilometres (250 miles) off the coast of Argentina.

The accident took the lives of 44 sailors.

Then, in 2019, a French submarine that went missing in the western Mediterranean over 50 years ago was found.

The diesel-electric Minerve submarine was lost off France’s southern coast with 52 sailors on board on January 27, 1968.

The Minerve was on a training mission in bad weather when it went down while returning to its base in Toulon, France’s main Mediterranean naval port.

Experts have speculated that the disaster was caused by a problem with the Minerve’s rudder, a collision with another boat, the explosion of a missile or torpedo, or a fault with its oxygen supply systems. 

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