- The 53 crew members of a missing Indonesian submarine may be alive, but each hour is important.
- The submarine KRI Nanggala-402 is equipped with only 72 hours of oxygen.
- More than 36 hours have passed since the submarine disappeared on Wednesday morning, local time.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
The Indonesian navy is running out of time to find and save the 53 crew of the submarine KRI Nanggala-402, as the ship contains enough oxygen to last until Saturday.
In a television news conference on Thursday afternoon, broadcast on Indonesian news channel Kompas TV, Indonesian officials said the submarine was equipped with just 72 hours of oxygen.
More than 36 hours have passed since the submarine disappeared in the waves off the coast of the Indonesian island of Bali at 3 am local time on Wednesday. He was participating in a torpedo drilling along the Bali Strait, a 37-mile stretch of water between the islands of Java and Bali that connects the Indian Ocean to the Bali Sea, when he abruptly left the network.
First Admiral Julius Widjojono, a representative of the Indonesian Ministry of Defense, told members of the media on Wednesday that 49 crew, a ship commander and three weapons experts were on board the missing submarine.
“We cannot say with certainty whether the ship sank, but it sank, the crew may be without oxygen,” Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto said during the news conference, adding that a major search and rescue operation was underway. progress .
According to the BBC, the country deployed six warships, a helicopter and 400 military personnel in an attempt to locate and emerge the ship.
Channel News Asia reported that rescue ships from Singapore and Malaysia were dispatched on Thursday to help find the submarine.
General Achmad Riad said at a news conference on Thursday that the Navy was still looking for the submarine from the last position that was detected, which was about 23 nautical miles north of Bali. He added that he had no evidence to say conclusively that the submarine had sunk.
The Indonesian navy lost contact with the submarine at around 4:30 am local time. This means that the search and rescue team has just over a day to find the vessel and put it on the surface – or guide it in shallow water, where rescuers can withdraw the crew.
According to Reuters, rescue workers conducting an aerial search detected an oil spill near the submarine’s diving position at about 7 am on Wednesday. Indonesian navy officials said the oil spill indicated that the submarine’s fuel tank may have ruptured because of water pressure or other factors, plunging it 600 to 700 meters below sea level.
The 44-year-old German ship, which has been in operation since the 1980s, was built to withstand water pressure to a maximum depth of about 250 meters.
Submarine expert Frank Owen, secretary of the Submarine Institute of Australia, told Insider that he could not speculate whether the crew was still alive.
“If it sank in 700 meters of water, it is a problem because it is well below its maximum operating depth. I still hope that the submarine is having difficulty reaching the surface, but it is safe,” said Owen, adding that the incident would survive in this best case scenario.
“The best way to get the crew out is by getting the submarine to surface or in shallow water,” he said.