Missing since Wednesday, 53 aboard . . .
An Indonesian submarine carrying 53 people was preparing for missile-firing exercises on Wednesday when it went missing off the north coast of Bali. Authorities were alerted to the potential disaster when the sub missed a scheduled reporting call after being granted permission to descend on a deep dive. President Joko Widodo invited people to pray for the crew and affirmed that national institutions are working together on the search and rescue. The Indonesian navy deployed several ships to search the area, and the Singaporean, Australian, and Indian Navies responded to a distress signal sent by Indonesian authorities on Wednesday to the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office.
Chances of quick rescue are slim . . .
The chief of staff of Indonesia’s navy said oxygen on the submarine would run out on Saturday, leaving little time to locate the vessel and rescue the submariners. Singapore, which is equipped with submarine rescue vessels and signed a submarine rescue pact with Indonesia in 2012, dispatched rescue ships early on Thursday. India has dispatched a deep submergence rescue vessel with the capacity to locate submarines and rescue crew up to one kilometre underwater. However, hopes of locating the submarine in time are slim. There are few clues as to where the ship disappeared, besides an oil slick in the area. While there are success stories, submarine rescues often take several months.
Indonesia’s expanding navy . . .
While Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, its navy lacks funding and capacity to protect its large exclusive economic zone. Incursions by foreign fishing fleets, especially from China, have been increasing in recent years, which has prompted the Indonesian military to ramp up its navy, with plans to expand its submarine fleet from five to eight before 2024. The missing vessel has been in operation in Indonesia since 1981 and was refitted in South Korea in 2012. While it was built to hold 34 crew, it is unclear why 53 members were aboard when it disappeared.
- Al Jazeera: Facing ‘morale blow,’ Indonesia steps up search for submarine
- Hindustan Times: India to join search for missing Indonesian submarine
- New York Times: Indonesian navy submarine goes missing with 53 people on board