The oxygen supply for the 53 crew members of an Indonesian submarine missing in waters off Bali is believed to have run out early Saturday with no sign of the vessel while the search resumed, bolstered by the arrival of a sonar-equipped Australian warship.
The KRI Nanggala 402 went missing after its last reported dive Wednesday off the resort island, and concern is mounting it may have sunk too deep to reach or recover in time. The navy chief said the submarine was expected to run out of oxygen early Saturday morning.
“We will maximize the effort today, until the time limit tomorrow at 3 a.m.,” military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Achmad Riad told reporters Friday. A news conference was scheduled for later Saturday morning.
There have been no signs of life from the submarine, but family members held out hope that the massive search effort would find the vessel in time.
“The family is in a good condition and keeps praying,” said Ratih Wardhani, the sister of 49-year-old crewman Wisnu Subiyantoro. “We are optimistic that the Nanggala can be rescued with all the crew.”
Twenty-four Indonesian ships and a patrol plane were mobilized for the search, focusing on the area where an oil slick was found after the submarine disappeared during an exercise. Rescuers made similar massive searches in the previous two days.
An American reconnaissance plane, P-8 Poseidon, was expected to join the search Saturday and a second Australian ship was due soon.
“These two Australian ships will help expand the search area and extend the duration of the search effort,” Australian Navy Rear Adm. Mark Hammond said.
Singaporean and Malaysian rescue ships were also expected in the coming days.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo canceled a visit to Banyuwangi port, where some rescue ships left earlier, to prepare for a weekend regional summit in Jakarta, officials said. He asked Indonesians to pray for the crew’s safe return, while ordering all-out efforts to locate the submarine.
“Our main priority is the safety of the 53 crew members,” Widodo said in a televised address on Thursday. “To the family of the crew members, I can understand your feelings and we are doing our best to save all crew members on board.”
There’s been no conclusive evidence the oil slick was from the sub. Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Yudo Margono said oil could have spilled from a crack in the submarine’s fuel tank or the crew could have released fuel and fluids to reduce the vessel’s weight so it could surface.