Hindustan Times (East UP)

Search on for missing U-boat, India joins in

Time running out for 53 crew members on the Indonesian submarine

- Letters@hindustant­imes.com

BALI, INDONESIA: Indonesian warships led the hunt on Thursday for a submarine that went missing with 53 crew aboard and only enough oxygen for a few days.

An oil spill where the submarine was thought to have submerged early on Wednesday pointed to possible fuel-tank damage, and fanned fears of a deadly disaster.

The crew on the KRI Nanggala 402 could have enough oxygen until early Saturday, but time was quickly running out as rescuers scoured the coast off holiday island Bali where it disappeare­d. “There’s time until Saturday around 3am. Let’s hope we can find them before then,” Navy chief of staff Yudo Margono told reporters.

However, defence analysts have warned that the vessel could have already broken into pieces if it has sunk to depths believed to be as much as 700 metres (2,300 feet) - well below what it was built to withstand.

Indonesia’s president Joko

Widodo asked his country to pray for the crew, while Australian defence minister Peter Dutton said initial reports raised the prospect of a “terrible tragedy”.

The German-built submarine was scheduled to conduct live torpedo exercises when it asked for permission to dive. It lost contact shortly after.

Search teams were focused on an area around the oil slick. But the exact location of the vessel had yet to be pinpointed, the navy said, with warships and helicopter­s assisting in the hunt.

The Indian Navy on Thursday deployed a deep submergenc­e rescue vessel to support the Indonesian Navy’s hunt for the attack submarine.

Indian Navy officials said a deep submergenc­e rescue vessel (DSRV) departed from Visakhapat­nam to support the Indonesian Navy in its operation to locate the diesel-electric attack submarine.

The Indian Navy sent the DSRV following an alert it received through the Internatio­nal Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) about the missing submarine.

“Indian Navy dispatched its DSRV to assist the Indonesian Navy in search and rescue efforts for the submarine KRI Nanggala,” Indian Navy spokespers­on

Vivek Madhwal said.

Neighbouri­ng Singapore and Malaysia have already dispatched ships that are expected to arrive in the coming days, including the city-state’s MV Swift Rescue - a submarine rescue vessel.

Damage to the submarine’s fuel tank could spell big trouble. “If your tank’s cracked it is not very good news,” said Collin Koh, a naval affairs specialist and research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of Internatio­nal Studies in Singapore. “Because we are talking about the pressure hull of the submarine being breached. So it could cause potential flooding.”

 ?? REUTERS ?? A file photo shows Indonesian Navy personnel on the submarine KRI Nanggala-402.
REUTERS A file photo shows Indonesian Navy personnel on the submarine KRI Nanggala-402.

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