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BANYUWANGI, Indonesia — Indonesia’s navy says items have been found from a missing submarine, indicating the vessel with 53 crew members has sunk.
Navy Chief Yudo Margono said Saturday that rescuers found several items including parts of a torpedo straightener, a grease bottle believed to be used to oil the periscope and prayer rugs from the submarine.
“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.
Indonesia earlier considered the submarine that disappeared on Thursday off Bali as just missing. But it now declares the submarine as officially sank with no hopes of finding any survivors.
Officials said oxygen supply for its 53 crew ran out early Saturday.
Indonesia initially had pressed ahead with a search Saturday, hours after the oxygen supply for 53 crew members aboard was believed to have been exhausted, with a U.S. reconnaissance plane and other nations’ vessels set to join the hunt.
There was concern the KRI Nanggala 402 may have sunk too deep to reach or recover in time. It lost contact after its last reported dive Wednesday off the resort island, and the navy chief has said it was expected to run out of oxygen early Saturday morning.
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. (Associated Press)
“We keep doing the search until we find it and whatever the result,” Indonesia military spokesperson Djawara Whimbo said.
An American reconnaissance plane, P-8 Poseidon, landed early Saturday and was set to join the search, along with 20 Indonesian ships, a sonar-equipped Australian warship and four Indonesian aircraft.
Singaporean rescue ships were also expected later Saturday, while Malaysian rescue vessels were due to arrive Sunday, bolstering the underwater hunt, Whimbo said.
Indonesian military, navy and police chiefs were due to hold a news conference later Saturday.
There were no signs of life from the submarine, but family members had held out hope that the massive search effort would find the vessel in time.
The search had focused on an area near the starting position of its last dive where an oil slick was found but there is no conclusive evidence so far the oil slick was from the sub.
Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Yudo Margono has 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.
The navy however, believes the submarine sank to a depth of 600-700 meters (2,000-2,300 feet), much deeper than its collapse depth of 200 meters (655 feet), at which water pressure would be greater than the hull could withstand.
The cause of the disappearance is still uncertain. The navy has said an electrical failure could have left the submarine unable to execute emergency procedures to resurface.
The German-built diesel-powered 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.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands, has faced growing challenges to its maritime claims in recent years, including numerous incidents involving Chinese vessels near the Natuna islands.
Associated Press writer Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report.
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