Indonesian Navy studies options on salvaging sunken submarine

Local, foreign specialised vessels are helping; victims' families urge govt to retrieve bodies

Ms Ceci Yuemi (in pink), the wife of Second Lieutenant Munawir who served on board the KRI Nanggala-402, at a religious gathering with family members in Surabaya yesterday. Family members of the lost crew will join hospital ship KRI Soeharso on Thurs
Flowers and petals with the names of the KRI Nanggala-402 crew members floating on the sea near Labuhan Lalang, Bali, yesterday. All 53 crewmen on the submarine were killed when it sunk to a depth of 850m.PHOTO: REUTERS
Ms Ceci Yuemi (in pink), the wife of Second Lieutenant Munawir who served on board the KRI Nanggala-402, at a religious gathering with family members in Surabaya yesterday. Family members of the lost crew will join hospital ship KRI Soeharso on Thurs
Devotees praying for the crew members of the KRI Nanggala-402 in Ciamis, West Java province, yesterday. The submarine was discovered broken into at least three parts on the seabed in the waters north of Bali Island on Sunday, four days after contact was lost during a preparation to launch a torpedo exercise. PHOTO: REUTERS
Ms Ceci Yuemi (in pink), the wife of Second Lieutenant Munawir who served on board the KRI Nanggala-402, at a religious gathering with family members in Surabaya yesterday. Family members of the lost crew will join hospital ship KRI Soeharso on Thurs
Ms Ceci Yuemi (in pink), the wife of Second Lieutenant Munawir who served on board the KRI Nanggala-402, at a religious gathering with family members in Surabaya yesterday. Family members of the lost crew will join hospital ship KRI Soeharso on Thursday to pray and ceremoniously scatter petals in the Bali Sea. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The Indonesian Navy yesterday assessed options, with aid from local and foreign specialised vessels, on how to salvage its submarine that sunk to a depth of 850m, killing all 53 crew members.

"We will analyse the underwater pictures and video, the current, et cetera, to decide the technology that will be used," First Admiral Julius Widjojono was quoted as saying by Reuters yesterday.

The KRI Nanggala-402 was discovered broken into at least three parts on the seabed in the waters north of Bali Island on Sunday, four days after contact was lost during a preparation to launch a torpedo exercise.

A sonar scan detected the submarine at a depth of 850m; the vessel was designed to withstand external pressure of up to 500m.

More than 20 vessels from Indonesia and other countries, including Singapore with its submarine rescue vessel MV Swift Rescue, were deployed in a search and rescue operation to detect the location of the submarine.

Grieving relatives of the dead crew members congregated at Celukan Bawang in north Bali yesterday to pray and pay their respects to their beloved ones, local media reported.

The families also urged the government to retrieve the bodies of the submariners from the sea.

A Navy official told The Straits Times that family members of the lost crew will join hospital ship KRI Soeharso on Thursday to pray and ceremoniously scatter petals in the Bali Sea.

Mr Zakheus Soltid, a resident of Banyuwangi, the coastal town in East Java where the KRI Nanggala-402 was stationed, expressed his deep sorrow over the deaths of the crew members, saying they were "the chosen people" and among Indonesia's best military personnel, who had ensured the country's security from any threat.

"Performing the duties underwater is tougher than any other job (in the military)," said the 70-year-old, who used to be a sailor.

"I am praying that their souls rest in peace."

Another resident, 73-year-old Daniel Pujiono, said that he was very sad and deeply grieved over the deaths of the 53 victims.

"This incident is a big tragedy. They passed away while performing their duties. They are national heroes," he said.

Meanwhile, a former Indonesian Navy senior engineer who had worked on the submarine said he felt "a big sense of loss" after he heard about the incident.

Indonesian naval officers throwing a garland into the sea at Semarang port yesterday as a sign of respect for the 53 crew members who were killed after their submarine sank off the coast of Bali last Wednesday. The navy is now looking at how best to
Remembering Indonesia's fallen sailors: Members of non-governmental organisation Pemuda Panca Marga throwing a garland into the sea at Semarang port yesterday as a sign of respect for the 53 crew members who were killed after their submarine sank off the coast of Bali last Wednesday. The navy is now looking at how best to salvage the KRI Nanggala-402 submarine, broken into at least three parts, and retrieving the bodies of those on board. The submarine has been located at a depth of 850m. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"Submarine crewmen attend extraordinary training. They are the greatest talent," said Mr Frans Wuwung, who was an engineer on Indonesia's submarines, including the 44-year-old KRI Nanggala-402.

He called for a thorough investigation into the incident to determine its cause in order to learn a lesson and avoid a recurrence.

A poignant video of the sailors singing a song titled Sampai Jumpa (Goodbye), a few weeks before the vessel went down, has emerged.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo offered his condolences to the relatives and vowed that the state would financially support the education of the children of the dead crew members.

Singapore President Halimah Yacob also expressed her condolences over the loss of the lives of the 53 crewmen.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2021, with the headline 'Indonesian Navy studies options on salvaging sunken submarine'. Subscribe