Jakarta. A number of countries have offered their assistance to the Indonesian Navy to locate its submarine that went missing during a combat exercise on Wednesday.
The Navy is racing against time to locate KRI Nanggala-402 submarine and learn the fate of its 53 crew members because the oxygen supply -- if the submarine remains intact -- will deplete in three days maximum.
Singapore was the first to deploy personnel and a rescue vessel within hours since the news broke.
“The Republic of Singapore Navy’s MV Swift Rescue -- our submarine rescue vessel -- was dispatched expeditiously yesterday afternoon, as fast as she could get ready, after our Navy Chief received a request for assistance from his Indonesian counterpart,” Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen wrote on his official Facebook account on Thursday.
“A medical team was also added to the regular crew in the event that hyperbaric care would be needed. Our military ties with Indonesia are very close, built up over the years of bilateral exercises and engagements at all levels. It is only natural that we do whatever we can to assist in times like this,” he added.
His Indonesian counterpart, Prabowo Subianto, said South Korea and India also have offered assistance in the search operation.
"South Korea contacted us just now offering their help, and so did India," Prabowo said in a joint press conference with the top brass of the military in Jakarta.
A Navy team has spotted oil spills on sea surface north of Bali, where the submarine made its last contact at around 3.00 a.m. on Wednesday, but the search has been without any significant progress so far.
President Joko Widodo said the safety of KRI Nanggala crew is now the utmost urgency.
“I have ordered the military commander, the navy chief of staff and the Basarnas (National Search and Rescue Agency) to use all at their disposal and do their best in the search and rescue operation,” the president said in a video message.
“To all family members of the crew, I understand your feeling at this difficult time, but I can assure you that the government is doing its best to locate and rescue all personnel of the missing submarine.”
Bought from Germany in 1981, KRI Nanggala-402 is one of only five submarines currently in service with the Indonesian military. It underwent a repair in South Korea for two years until 2012.