The KRI Yos Sudarso, an Indonesian Navy ship, at the crash site with the Royal Malaysian Navy's KD Lekir in the background, on Dec. 31, 2014. (Antara Photo/Joko Sulistyo)

Usman-Harun Ship Deployed as Bad Weather Continues to Hamper AirAsia Search

JANUARY 04, 2015

Jakarta. The Indonesian Navy is deploying two more warships with hull-mounted sonar systems to help search for victims and debris of AirAsia Flight Qz8501, which crashed off Kalimantan last week.

One of the two ships to join the group of vessels already at the site, news portal Republika reported, is the KRI Usman-Harun, controversially named after two Marines considered heroes in Indonesia and terrorists in Singapore. In 1965, the two killed three people when they bombed MacDonald House, a civilian target on Orchard Road.

Harun Said and Usman Muhammad Ali were convicted of murder and hanged, but their remains were later handed to Indonesia and were buried at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in Jakarta.

The naming of the warship last year caused a diplomatic row between Indonesia and Singapore.

The other ship to join the multinational search effort — in which the Singaporean navy is also taking part — is the KRI Frans Kaisiepo.

The chief of staff of the Indonesian Navy, Vice Adm. Ade Supandi said the ships were to replace another vessel that had been searching at the site since soon after the plane was declared missing on Dec. 28.

"It will not be effective if we keep on going [with the other ship] as the crew is already exhausted," Ade told news portal Detik.com Sunday.

He added that the warships would be trying to recover the remains of victims besides looking for parts of the plane. "Both warships are equipped with underwater detection capabilities," Ade said.

On Sunday, however, search efforts had to be halted due to extreme weather and underwater currents in the Karimata Strait, the chief of Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) told a press conference in Jakarta.

"The divers have jumped in but the visibility was zero: it was dark, the bottom of the sea was muddy," Bambang Soelistyo said. "[The search] has been temporarily halted because the weather is bad."

Before the underwater search was suspended, divers operating from the KRI Banda Aceh managed to recover a body at 3 a.m. The team has also found a large metal object believed to be part of the  Airbus A320.

The body was being kept at a Singaporean navy ship, Soelistyo said, from where it would be taken to Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan for identification.

There were 162 passengers and crew on board the AirAsia plane: 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, one Singaporean, one Malaysian, one Briton and one Frenchman. More than 30 bodies have been recovered.

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