Indonesia says all 53 in missing submarine feared dead

Tanya Simon
April 24, 2021

The items included parts of a torpedo straightener, a grease bottle believed to be used to oil the periscope and prayer rugs from the submarine.

"With the authentic evidence we found believed to be from the submarine, we have now moved from the "sub miss" phase to 'sub sunk, '" Margono said at the press conference, in which the found items were displayed.

The ship went missing Wednesday morning local time (approximately Tuesday, 3:00 PM EDT) after carrying out torpedo drills roughly 60 miles north of Bali, according to Indonesia's navy.

The Indonesian navy submarine KRI Alugoro sails during a search for KRI Nanggala, another submarine that went missing while participating in a training exercise on Wednesday, in the waters off Bali Island, Indonesia, Thursday, April 22, 2021.

Experts like Koh say Indonesia will have to expand the area of search again if the magnetic anomaly is proven not to be the vessel and warn that if the submarine is lost at an "extreme depth", it might not be possible to retrieve.

An aerial search also spotted an oil spill near the submarine's dive location, which the navy said could indicate damage to the vessel or could be a signal from the crew.

Indonesian authorities had said the air on board the Nanggala would last for 72 hours, which gave rescuers approximately until dawn on Saturday to find the sub and extract those on board.

Even if the submarine were to be located, rescuing the vessel and its crew will be challenging, Frank Owen, director of the Submarine Institute of Australia, told NBC News.

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Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said on Twitter Thursday that the US was "sending airborne assets to assist the search" at the invitation of the Indonesian government.

Singaporean and Malaysian rescue ships were also expected in the coming days.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered all-out efforts to locate the submarine and asked Indonesians to pray for the crew's safe return.

The navy previously said it believes the submarine sank to a depth of 600-700 metres (2,000-2,300 feet), much deeper than its collapse depth of 200 meters (655 feet), at which point water pressure would be greater than the hull could withstand.

The search focused on an area near the starting position of its last dive where an oil slick was found but there was no conclusive evidence so far the oil slick was from the sub.

The submarine, which disappeared as it prepared to conduct a torpedo drill, is created to withstand a depth of up to 500 metres (1,640 ft).

The navy has said a blackout may have occurred during static diving, causing a loss of control and preventing emergency procedures from being carried out. The ship contains 53 people, namely 49 crews, one commander, and three arsenal personnel.

But the passing of Saturday's oxygen deadline was likely to mean the Southeast Asian archipelago would be added to a list of countries struck by fatal submarine accidents. In November 2017, an Argentine submarine went missing with 44 crew members in the South Atlantic, nearly a year before its wreckage was found at a depth of 800 metres (2,625 feet).

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