Fears Mount Over Missing Indonesian Submarine As Oxygen Runs Low

The Indonesian Navy submarine KRI Alugoro sails during a search for KRI Nanggala another submarine that went missing while participating in a training exercise on Wednesday in the waters off Bali Island Indonesia Thursday

The Indonesian Navy submarine KRI Alugoro sails during a search for KRI Nanggala another submarine that went missing while participating in a training exercise on Wednesday in the waters off Bali Island Indonesia Thursday

The Indonesian Navy submarine KRI Alugoro sails during a search for KRI Nanggala, another submarine that went missing while participating in a training exercise on Wednesday, in the waters off Bali Island, Indonesia, Thursday, April 22, 2021.

"With the authentic evidence we found believed to be from the submarine, we have now moved from the "sub miss" phase to 'sub sunk, '" Margono said at a press conference in Bali where the found items were displayed.

A total of 20 vessels and four aircraft are being deployed by the Indonesian authorities on Saturday, while one Australian frigate and an American Poseidon P8 aircraft are also on the scene.

"We will maximise the effort today, until the time limit tomorrow (of) 3am", military spokesperson Major General Achmad Riad told reporters.

The Indian deep submergence rescue vessel was sent onboard its mother ship, Sabarmati, from Visakhapatnam naval base and will take one week to reach Bali.

If the submarine was still intact, Indonesian officials said on Friday it would only have enough air to last until around dawn on Saturday if equipment was functioning properly.

John Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary, said on Twitter that the US had sent "airborne assets to assist the search" after receiving an invitation from the Indonesian government. While they suspect it is the missing submarine, this is yet to be confirmed.

But hopes were momentarily raised late yesterday, when officials detected a "high magnetic" signature floating between 164 ft (50 m) and 328 ft (100 m) beneath the surface of the sea.

There have been no signs of life from the submarine, but family members held out hope that the massive search effort would find the vessel in time.

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The KRI Nanggala 402 disappeared on Wednesday during exercises off the coast of Bali, sparking a frantic search to locate the stricken vessel.

Margono, the navy cheif, had said oil could have spilled from a crack in the submarine's fuel tank or the crew could have released fuel and fluids to reduce the vessel's weight so it could surface.

There were also concerns that the vessel could have broken apart as it sunk to depths as low as 700 meters (2,300 feet) - well beyond the depth it is created to withstand.

When the commander of the training task force tried to authorize the firing drill 25 minutes later, communication with the submarine could not be established. "We are optimistic that the Nanggala can be rescued with all the crew".

The cause of the disappearance is still uncertain.

An Indonesian defence expert said the crew could still be found alive. In November 2017, an Argentine submarine went missing with 44 crew members in the South Atlantic, nearly a year before its wreckage was found at a depth of 800 meters (2,625 feet).

That submarine was on manoeuvres in the Barents Sea when it sank with the loss of all 118 aboard.

Most of its crew died instantly but some survived for several days before suffocating.

But the passing of Saturday's oxygen deadline was likely to mean the Southeast Asian archipelago would be added to a list of countries struck by fatal submarine accidents.

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