Indonesian Attack Submarine Missing After Participating in Exercise Near Bali

April 21, 2021 12:16 PM - Updated: April 21, 2021 3:49 PM
KRI Nanggala (402) in 2015. US Navy Photo

This post has been updated with an additional statement from International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office.

Indonesia submarine KRI Nanggala (402) went missing on Wednesday after it failed to report in while undertaking a simulated torpedo firing in preparation for a live firing later this week.
The Chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces, Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, told various international and Indonesian media outlets that contact with the submarine was lost at 0300 Indonesian time when it was 60 miles north of Bali. He stated that the submarine had received clearance to dive and then immediately lost contact.

Tjahjanto also stated he was heading to Bali and would conduct a press conference there on Thursday morning Indonesian time.

The submarine was carrying 53 personnel on board for the exercise, which Indonesian naval ships were taking part in, namely the frigates KRI Raden Eddy Martadinata (331) and KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai (332) and the corvette KRI Diponegoro (365). The ships conducted an immediate search for the submarine. Ship tracker Marine Traffic also showed the presence of the corvettes KRI Bung Tomo (357) and KRI Kapitan Pattimura (371) in the search area. Additional Indonesian Navy ships are also being dispatched for the search with the survey ship KRI Rigel (933) and the minehunter KRI Pulau Rengat (711) reportedly also among the ships sent to conduct the search, according to Indonesian media.

Indonesia has already asked Australia and Singapore for assistance in the Search and Rescue effort. Indonesia signed a submarine rescue agreement with Singapore in 2012 and the Singapore submarine rescue ship MV Swift Rescue is already inbound to the area, having departed Singapore in the evening. Both countries have yet to issue any statement on their assistance and ships dispatched as of this posting.

Other than Singapore and Australia, Malaysia also has a submarine rescue ship, MV Mega Bakti, though it’s based a distance away at RMN Kota Kinabalu, home of the Royal Malaysian Navy’s submarine force in the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo. AIS shows Mega Bakti docked near the base.

On Tuesday, “an alert was raised with the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office by the Indonesian Navy regarding Indonesian submarine Nanggalla,” according to NATO Maritime Command.

ISMERLO coordinates international submarine rescue.

Nanggala is the second of two Type 209 submarines built in Germany and commissioned into service in 1981 as the Cakra class. It completed a refit in the Republic of Korea in 2012. The Indonesian Navy operates a total of five submarines, with the remaining three being improved Jang Bogo-class boats from the Republic of Korea. The last of the three was built locally in Indonesia and commissioned in March.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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