Submarine Goes Missing During Torpedo Drill, Sparking Search for 53 on Board

The Indonesian navy is searching for a submarine with 53 people on board that went missing off the coast of the island of Bali during a torpedo drill early Wednesday morning.

Indonesian military chief Hadi Tjahjanto told Reuters in a text message: "We are still searching in the waters of Bali, 60 miles (96 km) from Bali, (for) 53 people."

Contact with the German-made KRI Nanggala-402 vessel was lost at 4:30 a.m. local time Wednesday, according to the chief.

First Admiral Julius Widjojono told Agence France-Presse: "It's true that the KRI Nanggala-402 lost contact since early this morning at around 3am [local time]."

The navy is "currently searching for it. We know the area but it's quite deep," the admiral added.

The submarine was conducting a missile shooting exercise in waters just north of Bali and did not relay the results of the military drill as expected, according to a spokesperson for the navy.

According to some reports, contact with the vessel was lost after the submarine was given clearance to dive into deeper waters, the BBC reported.

Presuming the submarine had sunk, the Indonesian military sent out a distress call to the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) at around 9:37 a.m. local time Wednesday to report the vessel was missing, reported Janes, which specializes in military topics.

The navy has recruited the help of Singapore and Australia to help with the search.

Newsweek has contacted the Indonesian National Military (TNI) as well as the defense ministries of Australia and Singapore for comment.

The KRI Nanggala-402 was ordered by Indonesia in 1977. Built in 1978, the nearly 1,550-ton submarine entered active service in 1981.

It underwent a two-year refit in South Korea, which was completed in 2012, according to the Indonesian cabinet secretariat's website.

Indonesia has been looking to upgrade its defense capabilities but some of its military equipment currently in service is reportedly old. Deadly accidents involving aging military transport planes have been reported in recent years.

The country currently has a fleet of five submarines, including two German-built Type 209 vessels and three newer South Korean submarines.

The latest incident comes just days after the search for 19 people who were aboard the Seacor Power, the commercial vessel that capsized off Louisiana's Port Fourchon, was suspended.

Rescue teams including U.S. Coast Guard cutter, helicopter and airplane crew as well as volunteer civilian boats had conducted the search for nearly a week.

Six people were rescued, while five more bodies were found in the water or aboard the vessel.

Eight people remain missing but authorities were not expecting to find any more survivors.

Indonesian navy submarine 2017
Indonesia's KRI Nagapasa-403 submarine arrives at the naval port in Surabaya, Indonesia on August 28, 2017. The Indonesian navy is searching for a submarine with 53 people on board that went missing off the coast of Bali during a military drill early Wednesday morning. Juni Kriswanto/AFP via Getty Images