BALI, April 25 (AFP): A missing Indonesian submarine has been found cracked apart on the seafloor in waters off Bali, the military said Sunday, as it confirmed that all 53 crew were dead.
“There were parts of KRI Nanggala 402 — it was broken into three pieces,” said Navy Chief of Staff Yudo Margono.
Indonesian military head Hadi Tjahjanto, meanwhile, told reporters that “all 53 personnel onboard have passed”.
Authorities said that they received signals from the location more than 800 metres (2,600 feet) deep early Sunday morning and that they had used an underwater submarine rescue vehicle supplied by Singapore to get a visual confirmation.
Tjahjanto said more parts from the vessel were discovered Sunday, including an anchor and safety suits worn by crew members.
On Saturday, the navy had first said fragments of the submarine, including items from inside the vessel, had been retrieved, but its location had yet to be confirmed.
The discovery comes after the submarine disappeared early Wednesday during live torpedo training exercises off the holiday island.
Authorities have not given an official explanation for the accident, but said that the submarine may have suffered a blackout and left its crew unable to resurface.
Navy chief Yudo Margono discounted an explosion, however, saying Saturday (April 24) that the evidence suggested the submarine came apart as it was crushed by water pressure at depths of more than 800 metres (2,600 feet) — well below what the Nanggala was built to withstand.
On Sunday, the search team focused on pinpointing the sub’s exact location.
Authorities have warned that any salvage operation would be risky and difficult in the deep waters.
Singapore’s MV Swift Rescue — a submarine rescue vessel — has arrived to aid in the recovery effort, the navy said Sunday.
Neighbouring Malaysia, as well as the United States, India and Australia, were among the nations helping in the search.
Search vessels, reconnaissance aircraft and submarine rescue ships have been deployed to scour a zone of about 10 square nautical miles (34 square kilometres).
The submarine — one of five in Indonesia’s fleet — disappeared early Wednesday while it was scheduled to do live torpedo training exercises off Bali.
The crew asked for permission to dive. It lost contact shortly after.
Later, search teams spotted an oil spill where the vessel was thought to have submerged, pointing to possible fuel-tank damage, and a catastrophic accident.
So far, authorities have not commented on questions about whether the decades-old vessel was overloaded, but they have said that the submarine — delivered to Indonesia in 1981 — was seaworthy. – AFP