04/22/2021, 10.05
INDONESIA
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Search for missing Indonesian submarine in Bali Sea

by Mathias Hariyadi

KRI Nanggala 402 was conducting a missile drill. The hull could be 600-700 meters deep: little hope for the crew of 53. Aid from other countries. Jakarta is trying to fence China's ambitions in the waters around the Natuna Islands.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The search for an Indonesian submarine that disappeared yesterday off the island of Bali continues. With 53 people on board, KRI Nanggala 402 was conducting a missile drill in the area.

The Indonesian navy found an oil spot near the dive site. Two sonar ships are engaged in recovery attempts. According to Jakarta, the submarine may have had an electrical blackout during the dive that left it sinking out of control to a depth of 600-700 meters. The problem is that the hull is built to withstand pressure at a maximum depth of 250 meters.

Singapore and Malaysia have sent their own naval units to support Indonesian ones in the rescue. Offers of help have also arrived from the USA, Germany, France, Turkey, India, Russia and Australia.

KRI Nanggala 402 is one of five submarines in force in the Indonesian navy. German-made, it was launched in 1977. The Indonesian fleet put it into operation in 1981; in 2012 it was modernized on a South Korean construction site.

The country is investing heavily in boosting its Naval power in an attempt to tackle China’s activism in the waters around the Natuna Islands. The Chinese are not making territorial claims on this Indonesian archipelago of 272 islands, but are claiming the right to exploit its fish-rich waters, a fact that is met with strong opposition from Jakarta.

The Natuna are located on the southwestern edge of the South China Sea, 90% of which Beijing claims for itself. Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan, with the support of the United States, oppose China's territorial claims.

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