Missing submarine: Oxygen will run out in 72 hours during a power blackout, says Indonesian navy chief
BALI: Oxygen supply for the missing military submarine will run out by early Saturday, Indonesian authorities said as they expressed optimism on search and rescue efforts.
Head of navy Admiral Yudo Margono told a press conference on Thursday (Apr 22) that the submarine would have enough oxygen for 72 hours during a power blackout.
“We lost contact (with the vessel) yesterday at 3am, so it can last until Saturday 3am,” he said.
The KRI Nanggala 402 submarine went missing on Wednesday with 53 people on board when taking part in a torpedo drill in north Bali waters.
Contact with the vessel was lost at about 4.30am, after it asked for permission to dive at 3am.
“We are optimistic, we hope for the best," Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto added.
A total of 49 crew members, one ship commander and three weapons specialists were on board the submarine, the defence ministry had said on Wednesday.
The submarine was built to sustain pressure at a maximum depth of around 250m, an official said. It was built in Germany in 1977 and joined Indonesia's fleet in 1981.
Oil slicks have been detected in several locations after the submarine went missing.
Adm Margono said it could mean damage to the vessel's fuel tank.
"Second, the crew might have dumped the oil hoping for (the vessel) to float. It would lighten the submarine."
Earlier on Thursday, Indonesia’s military spokesman Major General Achmad Riad told reporters that rescue vessels from Singapore and Malaysia were estimated to arrive on location this weekend to assist in the search.
Singapore’s MV Swift Rescue has sailed off and will most probably reach Bali on Saturday, while Malaysia’s MV Mega Bakti has departed from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, and is set to arrive on Sunday afternoon.
SEARCH TEAM FOUND A FLOATING OBJECT
A total of 21 vessels, five aircrafts and two submarines have been deployed in the search operation.
The authorities said at the press conference that the search team has found a magnetic object floating at a depth of 50m to 100m.
"KRI Rigel (a navy vessel) is currently being brought in (to retrieve the object). We hope (the object is part of) KRI Nanggala," said military chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto.
Adm Margono said the clear waters during the drill and the search operation provided good visibility, while adding that the navy takes good care of its equipment.
Responding to a question on whether the vessel was too old, Mr Subianto spoke of the need to modernise the country's weaponries.
“We have been prioritising development and prosperity, so they haven’t been modernised. Now it is urgent, we will modernise our weaponries.”
President Joko Widodo on Thursday urged all parties to do their best to find the vessel. "The priority is the safety of the 53 crew members," he said.