Asia

Indonesia continues search for missing submarine carrying 53 people

Hope is fading for the 53 crew members on a missing Indonesian submarine, as the search for the vessel continues off the coast of Bali.

The Indonesian navy has revealed that an oil spill at sea was spotted near the early diving position of the KRI Nanggala-402 before it went missing.

Indonesia’s defence ministry said the navy lost contact with the ship soon after it was given clearance to dive, at about 3am on Wednesday.

Earlier, defence officials had said they believed the ship had an electrical failure during the dive, causing it to lose control and preventing it from resurfacing. They believe it may have sunk to a depth of 600-700 metres.

Frank Owen, a submarine rescue expert, told the Guardian that this particular vessel was only designed to dive to a depth of less than half that.

“The submarine is designed to go to about 250 metres, and they usually have probably double that as a safety margin, but when you’re starting to get below that, who knows?

“At that depth of water, they could still be in one piece, but there probably would have been lots of buckling. If something fails, then everything fails.”

Owen said there were three likely outcomes for the submarines and its crew.

“Its either on the seabed, or it’s on the surface. Or it’s just operating and it’s unaware that people are looking for it. It’s one of three options.

“It could be a communication failure, but it has been 24 hours since the submarine was lost, so it’s looking less and less likely.”

He said it was not likely that the submarine was still operating and had just lost communication.

“They had an exercise they were going to do, there was an expectation they were going to communicate, but they didn’t communicate. So it’s either a communication problem or a submarine problem.”

Several countries, including Australia, Singapore and India, have responded to a request for help from Indonesia to search for the missing ship.

“We have had good cooperation with Singapore and Australia in the search and handling of training accidents,” military commander and air chief marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said.

Australia’s defence minister, Peter Dutton, said that he had called his counterpart, Prabowo Subianto, and offered Australia’s assistance.

Earlier, defence officials had said they believed the ship had an electrical failure during the dive, causing it to lose control and preventing it from resurfacing. They believe it may have sunk to a depth of 600-700 metres.

Frank Owen, a submarine rescue expert, told the Guardian that this particular vessel was only designed to dive to a depth of less than half that.

“The submarine is designed to go to about 250 metres, and they usually have probably double that as a safety margin, but when you’re starting to get below that, who knows?

“At that depth of water, they could still be in one piece, but there probably would have been lots of buckling. If something fails, then everything fails.”

Owen said there were three likely outcomes for the submarines and its crew.

“Its either on the seabed, or it’s on the surface. Or it’s just operating and it’s unaware that people are looking for it. It’s one of three options.

“It could be a communication failure, but it has been 24 hours since the submarine was lost, so it’s looking less and less likely.”

He said it was not likely that the submarine was still operating and had just lost communication.

“They had an exercise they were going to do, there was an expectation they were going to communicate, but they didn’t communicate. So it’s either a communication problem or a submarine problem.”

Several countries, including Australia, Singapore and India, have responded to a request for help from Indonesia to search for the missing ship.

“We have had good cooperation with Singapore and Australia in the search and handling of training accidents,” military commander and air chief marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said.

Australia’s defence minister, Peter Dutton, said that he had called his counterpart, Prabowo Subianto, and offered Australia’s assistance.

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