SINGAPORE - The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) submarine rescue vessel, MV Swift Rescue, was dispatched on Wednesday afternoon (April 21) to join in the search for a missing Indonesia submarine.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the ship was dispatched "as fast as she could get ready" after Singapore's navy chief received a request for assistance from his Indonesian counterpart.
A medical team was also added to the regular crew in the event that hyperbaric care is needed, he added.
An Indonesian military spokesman was quoted in media reports as saying that the MV Swift Rescue is estimated to arrive at the search area on April 24.
The German-made KRI Nanggala-402 was on Wednesday conducting a torpedo drill in waters north of the island of Bali before contact was lost. Search efforts are ongoing 60 miles (96km) from Bali for the 53 crew members.
In earlier reports, Indonesia's Defence Ministry said that an oil spill was spotted near the submarine's dive location during an aerial search.
It added that two navy vessels with sonar capability have been deployed to join in the search.
MV Swift Rescue, which has a maximum speed of 12 knots and can operate out at sea continuously for up to 28 days, is equipped with a Deep Search and Rescue Six (DSAR 6) submersible vessel.
The DSAR 6 is able to plunge into the water depths, attach itself to a crippled submarine, rescue its occupants and take them back up to the ship, where personnel trained in hyperbaric medicine can treat them.
The ship is equipped with recompression chambers, which help prevent and treat decompression sickness, an eight-bed high dependency ward and a 10-bed sick bay.
In his post, Dr Ng said that Singapore's military ties with Indonesia are very close, built up during bilateral exercises held over the years and with engagements at all levels.
"It is only natural that we do whatever we can to assist in times like this. The site for search operations, near Bali, is more than 1,500km away and waters are deep, which is why MV Swift Rescue sailed off as soon as she could.
"In the meantime, our fervent prayers and hopes go out to the crew of KRI Nanggala, for their safety and resilience and also to the search-and-locate teams of the Indonesian Navy currently on site," he added.
Singapore and Indonesia had signed a submarine rescue support and cooperation agreement in 2012 for the RSN's submarine rescue system to be made available to the Indonesian Navy. Its resources will also support the RSN in the event of a submarine disaster.