A missing Indonesian submarine has been found, broken into at least three parts, deep in the Bali Sea, army and navy officials have said, as the president sent condolences to relatives of the 53 crew.
Rescuers found new objects, including a life vest, that they believe belong to those who were onboard the 44-year-old KRI Nanggala-402, which lost contact on Wednesday as it prepared to conduct a torpedo drill.
“Based on the evidence, it can be stated that the KRI Nanggala has sunk and all of its crew have died,” the military chief, Hadi Tjahjanto, told reporters.
The navy chief of staff, Yudo Margono, said the crew was not to blame for the sinking. “The KRI Nanggala is divided into three parts, the hull of the ship, the stern of the ship, and the main parts are all separated, with the main part found cracked,” he said.
The president, Joko Widodo. earlier confirmed the discovery in the Bali Sea and sent the families of the victims his condolences. “All of us Indonesians express our deep sorrow over this tragedy, especially to the families of the submarine crew.”
Search teams said on Saturday they had found objects including prayer mat fragments and a bottle of periscope lubricant near the submarine’s last known location, leading the navy to believe the vessel had cracked.
Margono said on Saturday that a sonar scan had detected a submarine-like object at 850 metres (2,790ft), beyond the Nanggala’s diving range. More than a dozen helicopters and ships are searching the area where contact was lost, with the US, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and India providing assistance.
Residents of the East Java town of Banyuwangi, which hosts the naval base from where search and rescue operations are being conducted, joined nationwide calls to accelerate the modernisation of Indonesia’s defence forces.
“This can be a learning point for the government to advance its military technology and be careful in how it uses its [existing] technology because its people’s lives [that] are at stake,” said Hein Ferdy Sentoso, a 29-year-old resident.
South-east Asia’s most populous country has sought to revamp its military capability, yet some equipment is still old and there have been fatal accidents in recent years.
Indonesia had five submarines before the incident: two German-built Type 209s including Nanggala, and three newer South Korean vessels.