San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)

Navy says lost sub with 53 aboard sank, cracked open

- By Edna Tarigan and Fadlan Syam Edna Tarigan and Fadlan Syam are Associated Press writers.

BANYUWANGI, Indonesia — Indonesia’s navy on Saturday said its missing submarine sank and cracked open after finding items from the vessel over the past two days, apparently ending hope of finding any of the 53 crew members alive.

Military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said the presence of an oil slick as well as debris near the site where the submarine last dove Wednesday off the island of Bali were proof the KRI Nanggala 402 had gone to the ocean floor. Indonesian officials earlier considered the vessel to be only missing, but said the submarine’s oxygen supply would have run out early Saturday.

“The cracks happened gradually in some parts when it went down from 300 meters to 400 meters to 500 meters,” Navy Chief Yudo Margono said at a press conference in Bali.

The navy previously said it believes the submarine sank to a depth of 600700 meters (2,0002,300 feet), much deeper than its collapse depth of 200 meters (655 feet), at which point water pressure would be greater than the hull could withstand.

“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.

The cause of the disappeara­nce was still uncertain. The navy had previously said an electrical failure could have left the submarine unable to execute emergency procedures to resurface.

Margono said that in the past two days, searchers found parts of a torpedo straighten­er, a grease bottle believed to be used to oil the periscope, debris from prayer rugs and a broken piece from a coolant pipe that was refitted on the submarine in South Korea in 2012.

Margono said rescue teams from Indonesia and other countries will evaluate the findings. He said no bodies have been found so far.

An American reconnaiss­ance plane landed early Saturday and had been set to join the search, along with 20 Indonesian ships, a sonarequip­ped

Australian warship and four Indonesian aircraft. Family members had held out hopes for survivors but there were no sign of life from the vessel.

The Germanbuil­t dieselpowe­red KRI Nanggala 402 had been in service in Indonesia since 1981 and was carrying 49 crew members and three gunners as well as its commander, the Indonesian Defense Ministry said.

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