Indonesia searching for missing submarine with 53 on board

Indonesia searching for missing submarine with 53 on board

The Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala-402 participates in a photo exercise in the Java Sea during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (Carat) Indonesia in 2015. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
The Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala-402 participates in a photo exercise in the Java Sea during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (Carat) Indonesia in 2015. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

JAKARTA: Indonesia's navy is searching for a missing submarine with 53 people on board that went missing on Wednesday and is seeking help from neighbouring Australia and Singapore in the hunt, the Indonesian military chief told Reuters.

The German-made submarine, KRI Nanggala-402, was conducting a torpedo drill in waters north of the island of Bali but failed to relay the results as expected, a navy spokesman said.

"We are still searching in the waters of Bali, 60 miles (96 kilometres) from Bali, (for) 53 people," military chief Hadi Tjahjanto told Reuters in a text message.

The military chief confirmed that assistance in the search for the submarine and missing crew members had been sought from Australia and Singapore. He said that contact with the vessel was lost at 4.30am on Wednesday.

Representatives of the defence departments of Australia and Singapore did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The 1,395-tonne KRI Nanggala-402 was built in Germany in 1978, according to the Indonesian cabinet secretariat's website, and underwent a two-year refit in South Korea that was completed in 2012.

Indonesia in the past operated a fleet of 12 submarines purchased from the Soviet Union to patrol the waters of its sprawling archipelago.

But now it has a fleet of only five including two German-built Type 209 submarines and three newer South Korean vessels.

Indonesia has been seeking to upgrade its defence capabilities but some of its equipment still in service is old and there have been deadly accidents involving in particular ageing military transport planes in recent years.

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