Jakarta. The debris found near the waters where Nanggala was missing has confirmed the worst fear of Indonesia's search and rescue team that the German-made diesel-powered submarine was sunk off the coast of Bali, Admiral Yudo Margono, the chief of staff of the Indonesian said on Saturday.
"Based on the authentic evidence coming from KRI Nanggala-402, now we can say that the status is changed from submiss to subsunk," Yudo said in a press conference. He was using the military abbreviations for submarine missing and 'submarine sunk.
The admiral said the search and rescue team found submarine components, including torpedo tube straighteners, coolant pipes, a bottle of periscope lubricating oil, heat-retaining sponges, and other pieces that only could have come from the submarine.
"These are parts or components of the ship. These items belong to KRI Nanggala, they are not owned by the public, and in a radius of 100 miles, no other ships have passed," he said.
KRI Naggala-402 went missing after trying to fire its torpedoes during a combat exercise on Wednesday. The submarine last known position was in the waters over 700 meters deep, more than its maximum safe operation depth envelope of 250 to 500 meters.
The fate of its 53 crew members is now bleak as the Navi projected its oxygen supply was only enough for three days, should the submarine remained intact and lost all its electricity. That deadline had already passed this morning.
Despite that, Susaningtyas NH Kertopati, an Indonesian military observer, said there was still hope for the crews' survival, especially if they could breathe slowly to stretch the submarine oxygen supply. "They are trained to do that," she said.
Yudo said the SAR team was still hoping for a miracle and continue its search for the submarine.
The search and rescue for KRI Nanggala-402 had expanded to q multi-national operations involving a ship from Singapore, a sonar-equipped frigate from Australia, and a P-8 Poseidon marine patrol aircraft from the United States. A deep submergence rescue vessel is en route from India, with a dimming hope to arrive in time to rescue any survivor.
"We will try harder because the depth of the sea is at 850 meters. This is very risky and has a high degree of difficulty. Still, we will carry out the evacuation next," Yudo said.
The submarine hull might have cracked at such depth, allowing water to leak into the submarine, Yudo said. Still, he said there is a possibility that some crew members managed to evacuate to chambers that were still intact to wait for rescue.
The German-made submarine entered service in 1981, becoming one of only five submarines that Indonesia ever owns to patrol its sprawling archipelago. KRI Nanggala-402 underwent a complete overhaul and retrofit process in South Korea in 2012.