Indonesia navy declares lost submarine sunk with no hope of survivors

Cracks are thought to have appeared on the submarine, causing it to sink, reports ITV News Reporter Ellie Pitt

Indonesia’s navy has declared its missing submarine sunk. The vessel had cracked open, killing 53 crew members aboard, authorities said.

A search mission found items from the sub, which had been missing for three days, including parts of a torpedo straightener, part of a coolant pipe, a grease bottle, and prayer rugs.

There was no hope of finding survivors from the KRI Nanggala 402, officials said.

Navy Chief Yudo Margono told a press conference on Saturday: "If it’s an explosion, it will be in pieces. The cracks happened gradually in some parts when it went down from 300 meters to 400 meters to 500 meters.

"If there was an explosion, it would be heard by the sonar."

The cause of the disappearance remains uncertain.

The navy had previously said an electrical failure could have left the submarine unable to execute emergency procedures to resurface.

Items found from the sub were on display at the presser in Bali. Credit: AP

Margono said: "With the authentic evidence we found believed to be from the submarine, we have now moved from the sub miss phase to sub sunk."

Officials previously said the submarine’s oxygen supply would have run out by early Saturday.

Margono said rescue teams from Indonesia and other countries will evaluate the findings.

He said no bodies have been found so far. 

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

Singaporean rescue ships were also expected later Saturday, while Malaysian rescue vessels were due to arrive Sunday, bolstering the underwater hunt, Indonesia military spokesperson Djawara Whimbo said.

He had said Indonesia’s hydrographic vessel was still unable to detect an unidentified object exhibiting high magnetism that was earlier detected located at a depth of 50 to 100 meters (165 to 330 feet).

There had been no signs of life from the submarine, but family members held out hope that the massive search effort would find the vessel in time.

A search for the submarine had been carried out for days. Credit: AP

Indonesian President Joko Widodo had ordered all-out efforts to locate the submarine and asked Indonesians to pray for the crew’s safe return.

The search focused on an area near the starting position of its last dive where an oil slick was found but there was no conclusive evidence so far it was from the sub.

Margono, the navy cheif, had said oil could have spilled from a crack in the submarine’s fuel tank or the crew could have released fuel and fluids to reduce the vessel’s weight so it could surface.

The navy however, believes the submarine sank to a depth of 600-700 meters (2,000-2,300 feet), much deeper than its collapse depth of 200 meters (655 feet), at which water pressure would be greater than the hull could withstand.

The cause of the disappearance is still uncertain. The navy has said an electrical failure could have left the submarine unable to execute emergency procedures to resurface.

The German-built diesel-powered KRI Nanggala 402 has 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.