Indonesian Type 209 Submarine is missing | World Defense

Indonesian Type 209 Submarine is missing

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An Indonesian Submarine Is Missing With 53 People Aboard
The sub, which disappeared off the coast of Bali, may be too deep for rescuers to retrieve.
By Kyle Mizokami
Apr 22, 2021

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  • An Indonesian Navy submarine is missing off the coast of Bali.
  • The Nanggala is a 44-year-old German-made attack submarine.
  • Search-and-rescue teams spotted an oil slick in the area where the sub went missing.

The search is on for a missing Indonesian Navy submarine, which the service declared overdue after it failed to check in following a torpedo-launching exercise on Wednesday.

The sub, KRI Nanggala-402, last appeared off the island of Bali in the Bali Sea and reportedly has 53 sailors aboard. An international force of rescue ships and aircraft are converging on the island, and U.S. Navy submarine rescue units could also arrive at the scene.

The Indonesian Navy declared the submarine missing as of 4:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday. According to CNN, the Nanggala lost contact shortly after the Indonesian Navy gave it permission to dive at 3:00 a.m. The Nanggala was in the Bali Strait, a narrow waterway between the islands of Java and Bali. Here’s the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) notifying civilian aviators of the torpedo exercise:


TNI AL KRI Naggala torpedo firing exercise area. https://t.co/Rnf6QfzmOF
— xtemujin360Resources 🇸🇬 (@xtemujin) April 21, 2021


Aerial searchers discovered an oil slick on the ocean in the vicinity of the sub’s last known location at 7 a.m. on Wednesday.

An Indonesian Navy spokesman said the submarine could dive up to 500 meters below sea level, but his government feared the sub had gone an additional 200 meters deeper, per CNN. According to the authoritative Combat Fleets of the World, Nanggala has a maximum operating depth of 250 meters, and a “crush depth” of 500 meters. The submarine’s hull would likely fail beyond that depth.

Indonesian military aircraft and ships were reportedly combing the area where the submarine went missing. The country has also asked India, Singapore, and Australia to help find the sub. Singapore’s submarine support and rescue vessel MV Swift immediately went to sea from the country’s Changi Naval Base and is headed east to the search area. Indonesia reportedly has submarine rescue support agreements with Singapore, Australia, India, South Korea, the U.S., and Vietnam.

Looks like this is the area north of Bali being combed for the missing TNI-AL submarine KRI Nanggala. Corvettes KRI Diponegoro and KRI Kapitan Pattimura (371) pic.twitter.com/ZHzwEq2KQn
— Mike Yeo 杨启铭 (@TheBaseLeg) April 21, 2021


The U.S. maintains one of the most capable submarine rescue forces in the world. In 2017, the Pentagon sent over 200 search-and-rescue personnel, four submersibles, one specialized underwater rescue unit, and one ship to help find the lost Argentine Navy submarine ARA San Juan. U.S. searchers also dropped more than 400 sonar buoys in search of the sub.

However, the approximate location of the missing Indonesian submarine is 13,000 miles from the U.S. west coast, and American forces would have to ship rescue teams and equipment on Air Force transports to arrive in a timely manner.

In a 2016 submarine rescue exercise, the Nanggala’s crew received Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment (SEIE) MK-10 suits. The suits protect sailors from “water pressure, providing protection from decompression sickness, hypothermia, and extreme climate change,” according to Indomiliter. The U.S. Navy and Royal Navy also reportedly wear the suits.

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An Indonesian military commando rappels from a helicopter to a submarine during an exercise at a naval base in Cilegon, West Java province on October 3, 2015.
ROMEO GACADGetty Images

The Nanggala is a German-built Type 209-class destroyer. Widely built for navies around the world, the Type 209-class subs displace 1,395 tons underwater, have a length of 193 feet, and can do 21.5 knots submerged. The submarines are equipped with eight 533-millimeter bow-mounted torpedo tubes and can stay up to 50 days at sea. Nanggala went through a 2-year retrofit in South Korea that concluded in 2012.

Nanggala and her sister ship Cakra have normal crew complements of six officers and 28 enlisted men each, for a total crew of 24. Indonesia says there were 53 aboard the Nanggala when it went down. The additional passengers may have been civilian contractors or Navy personnel present for the torpedo-firing exercise.

The Nanggala is the second submarine lost worldwide in 4 years. In 2017, the Argentine Navy submarine ARA San Juan went missing off the coast of Argentina, and rescue teams found it one year later. The ship was lost with all hands. In 2019, the Russian Navy deep-diving submarine Losharik suffered a catastrophic fire that killed 14 naval personnel.
 

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U.S. Navy P-8 Maritime Patrol Plane To Join Hunt For Missing Indonesian Submarine​

Naval vessels from Australia, India, Malaysia, and Singapore have or are set to join the search effort amid fears time may be running out.​

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U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol plane is set to join the search for the Indonesian Navy's Cakra class submarine Nanggala today.Australia, India, Malaysia, and Singapore, are all also sending naval assets, including specialized deep-sea rescue systems, to help try to find the submarine and rescue its crew, which went missing during a training exercise earlier this week. There is a fear that time may already be running out, since Indonesian authorities say the Nanggala may only have enough oxygen to last until tomorrow afternoon.

Major General Achmad Riad, in charge of the Indonesian Armed Forces Information Center, confirmed in a press conference on April 23, 2021, that the American P-8A was expected to arrive in the region later in the day, local time. He did not say where the aircraft would be operating from specifically. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby had previously said unspecified "airborne assets" would take part in the search efforts looking for the Nanggala "at the invitation of the Indonesian government."
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The Indonesian Navy's Cakra class submarine Nanggala.

Riad also told the press that the current focus of the search operations was in an area approximately 25 miles north of Celukan Bawang Beach in Bali, based on the presence of oil slicks and stronger than normal magnetic readings. The latter information indicated the presence of a large metal object in the area, which could be the Nanggala. The torpedo training exercise that the submarine had been participating in when it went missing took place in a zone around 60 miles north of the island of Bali.

No information has yet been released about what may have happened to the submarine. The boat, which is just over 195 feet in length and displaces some 1,390 tons when submerged, had a larger than average crew of 53 on board for this particular drill. Why the Nanggala had this expanded crew complement remains unclear.

The Navy's P-8A offers a valuable aerial reconnaissance platform to help with the search that will be able to cover a wide area and remain on station for an extended period of time. The aircraft's crew will be able to keep a look for any new oil slicks or other debris that could indicate the position of the submarine. Poseidons have deployed to support various search and rescue efforts in Pacific region over the years, including the hunt for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370in 2014 and the search for a lost Japanese F-35A Joint Strike Fighter in 2019.
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Navy P-8As at Misawa Air Base in Japan during the search for a missing Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A Joint Strike Fighter in 2019.

How well the aircraft might be able to search for the submarine itself is less clear. Major General Riad specifically mentioned that magnetic readings have been a key source of information in the hunt for the Nanggala. The Navy's Poseidons notably do not have magnetic anomaly detectors (MAD), which are designed to spot discrepancies in the Earth's naturally-occurring magnetic field. As already noted, these readings can point to the presence of a large metal object underwater, such as a submarine.

Instead, Navy P-8As rely on sonobuoys to detect and track targets below the waves. How the Nanggala might be situated underwater in relation to the seafloor or other underwater obstacles, as well as just how deep it might be lying now, could impact a sonobuoy's ability to detect it.

Of course, the Poseidon will be just one of a growing number of air and maritime assets looking for the Nanggala. Australia's Department of Defense announced just today that Royal Australian Navy's Anzac class frigateHMAS Ballarat, along with its embarked MH-60R Seahawk helicopter, and the HMAS Sirius, a fleet replenishment vessel, were on their way to the water off Bali. Ballarat has a fixed sonar system and can launch a towed sonar array, and the Seahawk can also deploy a dipping sonar. Both the ship and its helicopter could provide additional general situational awareness to keep an eye out for any new developments on the surface, as well.
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HMAS Ballarat, with its embarked MH-60R helicopter seen flying in the background, during an exercise in 2020.

“These two Australian ships will help expand the search area and extend the duration of search effort,” Royal Australian Navy Rear Admiral Mark Hammond said in a statement. "Sirius can replenish ships with fuel, water and stores by day and night," the Australian DOD added in its press release.

Other foreign naval vessels are already on the way. Major General Riad said that the Navy P-8A was set to arrive at around the same time as the MV Swift Rescue, a submarine support and rescue ship that has a mixed crew of Singaporean Navy sailors and contractors from Swire Pacific Offshore Operations.
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Singapore's MV Swift Rescue.

This ship can carry and deploy the Deep Search And Rescue Six (DSAR 6), a 31-foot-long deep-submergence rescue vehicle (DSRV) that is designed to dive down depths up to 1,600 feet. It has a crew of two and can accommodate up to 15 other individuals. The MV Swift Rescue can also launch unmanned remotely operated vehicles (ROV) that are also capable of operating at great depths to help search for submarines and other objects of interest down below. They can also help clear debris on a sunken submarine to make it easier for DSRVs or divers to reach it.

It was announced earlier this week that the Indian Navy would be sending a salvage ship loaded with one of that service's own DSRVs to assist with the search. The Royal Malaysian Navy's MV Mega Bakti, another submarine rescue ship able to deploy ROVs, is also headed to the area to help.
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An Indian Navy salvage ship with a DSRV seen onboard at the rear.
 

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The Royal Malaysian Navy's submarine rescue ship MV Mega Bakti.

This is all in addition to the 21 vessels from Indonesia's own navy, along with four Indonesian police boats, which have been deployed to the area to look for any trace of the Nanggala. The submarine Alugoro, Indonesia's third Nagapasaclass submarine, which was only delivered in March, is reportedly part of the search effort.

Nagapasa class design is an improved derivative of South Korea's JangBogo class design. Indonesia already has three more of these vessels which could very well eventually replace the aging Cakra class boats, on order. The two Carkas, Type 209/1300 class boats originally built in what was then West Germany in the 1980s, did receive significant upgrades in South Korea between the mid-2000s and the early 2010s.

This combined force is now racing against time to find the Nanggala. As already mentioned, Indonesian authorities are concerned that the submarine may only have enough oxygen to last until tomorrow. The area where the boat might be lying is a trench that goes down to a depth of between 2,000 and 3,000 feet, as well. Even specialized DSRVs might not be able to reach it at those depths. This is also deep enough where the water pressure could be starting to crush the hull.

“Most rescue systems are really only rated to about 600m (1,970 feet),” Frank Owen, the Secretary of the Submarine Institute of Australia, told The Guardiannewspaper in the United Kingdom earlier this week. “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.”

The hope, of course, is that there is still enough time to find the submarine and that it will be in a position where Indonesia and international partners will be able to save the crew.

Contact the author: [email protected]
 

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Debris found from missing Indonesian submarine
By Sommer Brokaw
April 24, 2021

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Indonesian military Chief Hadi Tjahjanto (C) displays debris believed to be from the Indonesian navy submarine KRI Nanggala that disappeared Wednesday during a press conference Saturday at a command in Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali, Indonesia. Photo by Made Nagi/EPA-EFE

April 24 (UPI) -- Indonesia's Navy said Saturday it found debris from its lost submarine, indicating the vessel with 53 people aboard sank in a deep area of the Bali Sea.

Search crews have been looking for the German-made submarine, KRI Nanggala-402, since it went missing Wednesday about 60 miles north of Bali as it descended to conduct torpedo drills, military officials said.

The Nanggala was built to withstand pressure of up to 500 meters deep, but sonar indicated it sank to a depth of 850 meters, which is referred to as "crush depth," which would fracture the steel hull of the submarine, The New York Times reported.

The debris was found floating at a location where the Bali Sea was 850 meters deep, Indonesia Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Yudo Margono said at a news conference.

Among the debris were sponges, pieces of a Muslim prayer mats and bottles of grease used to lubricate the submarine's periscope, which were inside the submarine, but no crew members have been found, Yudo said.

Yudo added that the condition of the debris indicated that the submarine had not exploded, but cracked under pressure exerted from depth.

The Indonesian navy has changed the status of the submarine from missing to sunk, according to Yudo.

Military officials said Friday the Nanggala was expected to run out of oxygen early Saturday.

Indonesian warships, airplanes and a helicopter have been scanning the waters for the ship. A KRI Rigel 993 vessel equipped with high-tech detection capabilities deployed to the site Friday, and Australia and the United States dispatched vessels to join the search.

The 1,400-ton sub was built in the late 1970s and refitted in South Korea in 2012. Some of the debris found Saturday had Korean writing on it, indicating it was from the sub, according to The New York Times.

Col. Harry Setywan, commander of Indonesia's five-vessel submarine fleet, was among the people on board the sunken sub, The Times reported.
 

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Indonesia says 53 crew of lost sub are dead, wreckage found

Edna Tarigan, The Associated Press and Fadlan Syam, The Associated Press
6 hours ago

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A military officer display a life jacket found in the waters during a search for the Indonesian Navy submarine KRI Nanggala at Ngurah Rai Military Air Base in Bali, Indonesia on April 25, 2021. (Firdia Lisnawati/AP)

BANYUWANGI, Indonesia — Indonesia’s military on Sunday officially said all 53 crew members from a submarine that sank and broke apart last week are dead, and that search teams had located the vessel’s wreckage on the ocean floor.

The grim announcement comes a day after Indonesia said the submarine was considered sunk, not merely missing, but did not explicitly say whether the crew was dead. Officials had also said the KRI Nanggala 402′s oxygen supply would have run out early Saturday, three days after the vessel went missing off the resort island of Bali.

“We received underwater pictures that are confirmed as the parts of the submarine, including its rear vertical rudder, anchors, outer pressure body, embossed dive rudder and other ship parts,” military chief Hadi Tjahjanto told reporters in Bali on Sunday.

“With this authentic evidence, we can declare that KRI Nanggala 402 has sunk and all the crew members are dead,” Tjahjanto said.
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This undated underwater photo released April 25, 2021, by Indonesian Navy shows parts of submarine KRI Nanggala that sank in Bali Sea, Indonesia. (Indonesian Navy via AP)

An underwater robot equipped with cameras found the lost submarine lying in at least three pieces on the ocean floor at a depth of 838 meters (2,750 feet), said Adm. Yudo Margono, the navy’s chief of staff.

That’s much deeper than the KRI Nanggala 402′s collapse depth of 200 meters (655 feet), at which point water pressure would be greater than the hull could withstand, according to earlier navy statements.

Margono said emergency survival suits that are normally kept in boxes were found floating underwater, apparently indicated the crew may have tried to put them on during the emergency.

The cause of the submarine’s sinking remains uncertain. The navy had previously said an electrical failure could have left the submarine unable to execute emergency procedures to resurface.

The wreckage is located 1,500 meters (yards) to the south of the site where the submarine last dove Wednesday, off Bali’s northern coast, Margono said. Photos of the debris were presented at the press conference.

The underwater robot deployed by Singaporean vessel MV Swift Rescue provided the images, while the Indonesian vessel KRI Rigel had scanned the area where the submarine was believed to have sunk using multibeam sonar and a magnetometer, Tjahjanto said.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo delivered his condolences in a televised address Sunday.

“All Indonesians convey deep sorrow for this tragedy, especially to all of the families of the submarine’s crew. They are the best sons of the nation, patriots guarding the sovereignty of the country,” Widodo said.

An American reconnaissance plane, a P-8 Poseidon, landed Saturday and had been set to join the search, along with 20 Indonesian ships, a sonar-equipped Australian warship and four Indonesian aircraft.

The German-built diesel-powered KRI Nanggala 402 had been in service in Indonesia since 1981 and was carrying 49 crew members and three gunners as well as its commander, the Indonesian Defense Ministry said.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands, has faced growing challenges to its maritime claims in recent years, including numerous incidents involving Chinese vessels near the Natuna islands.

Tarigan reported from Jakarta, Indonesia.
 

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