UPDATED: Indonesian Navy Finds Missing Submarine Wreckage, All Aboard Dead

April 24, 2021 8:55 AM - Updated: April 25, 2021 9:17 AM
KRI Nanggala (402) in 2015. US Navy Photo

This post has been updated with additional information on the loss of KRI Nanggala.

KUALA LUMPUR — The Indonesian Armed Forces announced the finding of the wreckage of attack submarine KRI Nanggala (402) and that all 53 personnel on board it had perished.

In a Sunday press conference held in Bali, the head of Indonesia’s Armed Forces, Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto stated that the survey ship KRI Rigel (933) had conducted a scan of the area using its multibeam sonar and magnetometer and based on the underwater imagery produced, a remote operated vehicle (ROV) from the Singaporean submarine rescue ship MV Swift Rescue was despatched to conduct a visual examination.

Tjahjanto stated that the imagery seen showed parts and debris from the submarine such as the rear vertical rudder, anchor, parts from the outer hull body, diving sail plane and Mk 11 submarine escape suits and that the imagery were clear evidence that the submarine had sank and all personnel aboard had perished.

Present also at the press conference was Indonesian Navy Chief Adm. Yudo Margono who stated that the submarine had broken up into three parts and was at a depth of 2750 feet. Margano was also quoted in the Indonesian media as stating that the submarine was well within its personnel capacity, normally having the capability to embark 50 personnel along with seven navy commandoes for a total of 57, thus the 53 personnel embarked on it was within its maximum personnel embarked capacity. There has been question asked on the number of personnel embarked given the Type 209 submarine class, of which the Nanggala belongs to, normally are rated for a crew of 33 to 36 personnel. He also stated that the submarine had faced no major problems or issues since it returned from its 2012 refit in South Korea and that the navy would not have selected the submarine for the firing exercise if it had any known reliability issues.

Tjahjanto stated that the Indonesian leadership will coordinate with the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) as to the next steps that would be undertaken, adding that such was necessary given the recovery of the submarine would require international cooperation.

Among the foreign ships on scene are the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) and the Singaporean submarine rescue ship MV Swift Rescue. A US Navy P-8 Poseidon is now in Bali to assist with search operations, having arrived on Friday night

The discovery of the wreckage comes a day after the Indonesian military declared the submarine missing.

The determination was based on finding debris from the submarine which included items that could only have come from the interior of the submarine has resulted in the submarine’s status being changed from missing to sunk.

Among the debris included pipe covering material with Korean writing on them, these having been installed on the submarine during its 2012 refit in the Republic of Korea, a piece from a torpedo straightener and a bottle containing grease that was standard equipment for use on the submarine’s periscope. Air Chief Marshal Tjahjanto stated that the finding of oil slicks and debris were evidence that the submarine had sank.

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.

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox