Missing Indonesian submarine: A look at major submarine incidents around the world

The Indonesian Navy submarine KRI Nanggala-402 went missing with its crew of 53 in waters off Bali on April 21, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SINGAPORE - The search for the Indonesian Navy submarine KRI Nanggala-402 continues after it went missing with its crew of 53 in waters off Bali on Wednesday (April 21).

Here are other major submarine incidents around the world:

Losharik fire

A fire that broke out in the battery compartment of the nuclear-powered Russian deepwater research submarine Losharik killed 14 crew members in July 2019. The vessel had been taking underwater measurements of the sea floor in Russian territorial waters. Five of those onboard survived, according to reports, and the submarine was recovered and repaired.

ARA San Juan goes missing

In November 2017, the Argentinian diesel-electric submarine disappeared in the San Jorge Gulf region. After weeks of search and rescue efforts, it was declared missing, along with 44 people aboard. Its wreckage was discovered the next year, 460km south-east of port city Comodoro Rivadavia.

Blasts on INS Sindhurakshak

Explosions caused by a fire onboard the Indian Naval Submarine (INS) Sindhurakshak, which was carrying warheads, torpedoes and missiles, led to its sinking in August 2013. The fire was put out, but it caused a series of ordnance blasts, and resulted in the deaths of 18 crew members.

AS-28 emergency

On Aug 5, 2005, a Russian rescue vehicle, the Priz AS-28 submarine, and its crew of seven were trapped 190m below the ocean's surface after its propellers became entangled in underwater cables. The crew was stranded in the dark, freezing submarine with a diminishing oxygen supply. After three days, the sub was finally freed and the crew rescued when a British rescue vehicle submarine cut it free from the tangled cables.

USS San Francisco collision

In January 2005, the Los Angeles-class submarine USS San Francisco collided head on with an undersea mountain about 560km south of Guam in the Mariana Islands, while on a high-speed voyage to Australia. One of the sailors died from injuries and 97 others were injured. The collision was so severe that the sub almost sank.

Deaths onboard Ming-class submarine

Seventy Chinese naval officers and crew were killed, apparently suffocated, in an accident on a Ming-class submarine conducting exercises east of the Neichangshan islands in May 2003. The Chinese government said only that there were "mechanical problems".

Kursk catastrophe

On Aug 12, 2000, the Russian guided missile submarine K-141 Kursk sank to the floor of the Barents Sea after two explosions in its bow. All 118 men aboard the nuclear-powered sub died. After recovering the remains of the dead from the sub, officials determined that 23 crew members had survived the initial accident before suffocating.

Sinking of the K-8

A fire that broke out onboard the Soviet attack submarine K-8 in April 1970 disabled the nuclear-powered vessel in the Bay of Biscay, forcing the crew to abandon ship. They boarded the sub again after a rescue vessel arrived. But the sub sank while it was being towed in rough seas, taking the 52 submariners with it.

Source: Reuters, AFP , ST archives, New Delhi Television

SPH Brightcove Video
An Indonesian submarine, with 53 people on board, has gone missing. The clock is ticking before the oxygen runs out. A Singapore rescue vessel is on the way to join the search.

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