Indonesia to salvage sunken submarine

The sunken Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala-402 will be salvaged with the help of Chinese salvage vessels. The Indonesian authorities confirmed this on Friday. They believe that the deceased crew are still inside the vessel.

The KRI Nanggala-402 disappeared last Wednesday during an exercise about 95 kilometres off the coast of Bali. The wreckage was found four days later at the bottom of the sea, after parts of the submarine had already been found.

Magnets and hot air balloons

The submarine, which has broken into three pieces, lies at a depth of more than 800 metres. China has sent three ships to help with the salvage. It concerns the 156-metre-long ocean salvage and rescue ship Yong Xing Dao-863, which has robots and sonar on board, the 119-metre ocean tug Nantuo-185 and the 87-metre scientific salvage ship Tan Suo 2. These three salvage ships are said to be able to reach a depth of 4500 metres. The first two arrived in Bali waters on Sunday 2 May.

A fourth vessel to assist is the Timas 1201, a multi-purpose DP2 construction vessel and pipelayer, owned by Indonesian offshore contractor Timas. This ship has a crane with a capacity of 1200 MT, which is suitable for platform installations.

It is not yet clear how the submarine will be pulled out of the water. It is possible that strong magnets and hot air balloons will be used. Neither is it known when exactly the salvage operation will begin.

The 53 crew members were commemorated by their relatives during a ceremony on Friday. They paid tribute to their loved ones by strewing flowers at the spot where the submarine disappeared.

Underwater currents

The cause of the KRI Nanggala-402 running into trouble is still being investigated. According to the navy, it was seaworthy. On Tuesday, the navy said they believe natural factors have caused the accident and pointed to the occurrence of a natural wave, which may have pulled the submarine down.

Also read: Indonesian submarine found broken in pieces, underwater currents suspected cause

A malfunction that prevented the crew from taking emergency measures, resulting in the vessel sinking too deeply and breaking up due to the enormous water pressure, is also still considered a possibility.

Source: ANP

Picture by U.S. Pacific Fleet/Flickr.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.