Eric Ireng / AP
The United States is joining the international search for a missing Indonesian submarine that lost contact with the base earlier this week. Authorities say KRI Nanggala 402, if still intact, has less than a day of oxygen to support its crew of 53.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby announced on Twitter Thursday evening that, at the request of Indonesia, the United States was “sending airborne vehicles to help search for the missing submarine.”
We are deeply saddened by the news of the disappearance of the Indonesian submarine and our thoughts go out to the Indonesian sailors and their families. At the invitation of the Indonesian government, we are sending airborne vehicles to assist in the search for the missing submarine.
– John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) April 22, 2021
KRI Nanggala 402 disappeared early Wednesday morning during a drill in the Bali Sea after being granted permission to dive. The German-built diesel boat missed its next radio check-in and nothing has been heard since.
Juni Kriswanto / AFP via Getty Images
An Indonesian military spokesperson said officials will push the search to the max in the hours before the navy has calculated that the oxygen aboard the submarine will run out – estimated to be around 3 a.m. local time Saturday (4 p.m. ET Friday). .
“Today we will maximize the effort, until tomorrow’s time limit at 3 am,” Maj. Gen. Achmad Riad told reporters.
Numerous Indonesian Navy vessels and other ships and a patrol plane were involved in the latest search on Friday, focusing on an area where a oil slick was found earlier in the week, though officials pointed out that it did not there is conclusive evidence that it came from the submarine.
India sent a deep-sea rescue ship on Thursday to aid in the search, joining Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and several other countries who have pledged to assist in the search and any possible rescue.
But with the clock ticking, help is likely to come too late.
Although Indonesian military officials are hoping a rescue is still possible, they expressed concern shortly after the submarine’s disappearance that it may have gone too deep to recover. Officials indicated that KRI Nanggala 402 has a maximum operating depth of between 200 and 250 meters (approximately 655-820 feet). But officials said it could have dropped much deeper, down to 2,300 feet.
In recent days, however, researchers say they have discovered an unidentified object with high magnetism 50-100 meters (about 165-330 feet) below the surface in the vicinity where they believe the submarine has disappeared.
KRI Nanggala was built in the late 1970s and has been in service in the Indonesian navy since the early 1980s. Despite its age, the submarine underwent a refit in 2012 in South Korea and the Indonesian navy insists it was certified seaworthy.
The cause of the submarine’s disappearance is not yet certain. The ship lost contact while conducting a weapons drill, reportedly a torpedo drill, but the Navy says an electrical failure may have left it unable to perform emergency procedures to resurface after a dive.