BALI: All 53 crew members on board a sunken Indonesian submarine have been confirmed dead, with debris of the vessel found, said Indonesia’s military chief on Sunday (Apr 25).
Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said search teams had received “visual images” which have been confirmed as parts of the KRI Nanggala 402 submarine, such as the rear vertical rudder, anchors and the outside of the pressure body.
“Therefore, with deep sadness, as the commander, I declare that 53 KRI Nanggala 402 personnel have died,” said ACM Tjahjanto at a press conference in Bali.
SUBMARINE ESCAPE SUIT FOUND
The military showed what it said was a submarine escape suit found by search teams. Navy chief Admiral Yudo Margono said the suit would normally be stored in an “emergency box”. He suggested that someone had perhaps taken the suit out of the box but did not manage to wear it.
At least 25 Indonesian ships have been involved in the search for KRI Nanggala 402. Ships from other countries have also been sent. Among them is Singapore’s MV Swift Rescue, which arrived early on Sunday.
Adm Margono said the MV Swift Rescue’s Remotely Operated Vehicle was deployed at 7am. At around 9am, it obtained visual images of the submarine at a depth of 850m.
“The KRI Nanggala is divided into three parts, the hull of the ship, the stern of the ship, and the main parts are all separated, with the main part found cracked,” he said.
Investigations are under way for the cause of the sinking but the navy chief told reporters he ruled out human error, saying that the correct procedures were in place when the submarine dove.
An attempt will be made to lift the submarine but because of the rarity of such an operation, he said the military had yet to determine how it would do it.
The Indonesian submarine went missing on Wednesday while taking part in a torpedo drill in north Bali waters.
The military earlier assumed that the submarine experienced a power outage. In that condition, the submarine could have run out of oxygen by 3am on Saturday.
In a statement on Sunday, President Joko Widodo said: “This tragedy shocked us all. Not only the families of the 53 crew members and the navy, but also the entire Indonesia people.”
“We all, the people of Indonesia, would like to convey our sadness … especially to the families. They are the best sons of Indonesia, the best patriots.”
SINGAPORE OFFERS CONDOLENCES
Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Sunday said he had called his Indonesian counterpart Prabowo Subianto to offer deepest condolences to the families of the crew.
“We grieve together with the TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) and the affected families for the loss of these brave men and patriots of the Golden Shark unit on board KRI Nanggala,” said Dr Ng in a Facebook post.
“May they rest in peace, having served their country with the utmost dedication and ultimate sacrifice.”
The wreckage of the submarine was located by Indonesian Navy ship KRI Rigel in the Bali Strait using sonar, added Dr Ng.
The Indonesian Navy then cued Singapore’s MV Swift Rescue to provide visual confirmation and retrieve parts of the wreckage using its remotely operated vehicle, he said.
Singapore Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean on Sunday expressed “deepest condolences” on the loss of the vessel and the crew.
“As a fellow naval officer, we are saddened that our rescue team was not able to save the sailors,” said Mr Teo, who was Singapore’s navy chief before entering politics.
In a Facebook post, Mr Teo added that the Singapore Navy’s Remotely Operated Vehicle was able to recover a “few critical items” from the seabed at a depth of more than 800m.
“We hope that this will help the families find some closure and certainty on the fate of their loved ones,” said Mr Teo.