Indonesia's Missing Submarine: Everything We Know About Vessel With 53 People on Board

An Indonesian navy submarine carrying 53 people went missing on Wednesday while conducting a training exercise.

How it happened

According to Reuters, a navy spokesperson identified the 44-year-old submarine as a KRI Nanggala-402, and said on Wednesday that the submarine was conducting a torpedo drill in the area north of Bali.

"We are still searching in the waters of Bali, 60 miles (96 km) from Bali, (for) 53 people," Indonesia military chief Hadi Tjahjanto told the news outlet in a text message. Tjahjanto also said that the military lost contact with the submarine at around 4:30 a.m., local time, on Wednesday.

While speaking with local news outlet Kompas, Tjahjanto said that the submarine went missing shortly after being given dive clearance from military officials.

"Just when the dive permit was given, after being given the clearance, contact was immediately lost," Tjahjanto told Kompas.

CNN Indonesia reported that Widjojono said they believe the submarine had traveled to a depth of around 600-700 meters.

Despite the comments made to Reuters, a statement issued by the Indonesia Defense Ministry stated that the submarine asked for clearance to dive at around 3 a.m., local time, and the military lost contact with the submarine immediately after.

Who's onboard

According to the statement from the defense ministry, the 53 people on the missing submarine included 49 crew members, one commander and three "arsenal men."

Search mission:

In response to the missing submarine, Indonesia's military chief has ordered additional ships to help in the search mission. The country's defense ministry said that two navy ships with sonar scanning abilities have been deployed to help the search mission.

"[The navy] is currently searching for it. We know the area but it's quite deep," First Admiral Julius Widjojono told AFP news agency.

In addition to the Indonesia military directing more ships to search for the missing submarine, the statement from the defense ministry noted that the military has sent out a distress signal to the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) at around 9:37 a.m., local time.

According to the statement from the defense ministry, the Indonesia military has received responses from the Singapore Navy, the Australian Navy and the Indian Navy to assist in the search mission for the missing submarine.

Indonesia Submarine
Indonesia's latest submarine KRI Nagapasa 403 arrives at the naval port in Surabaya on August 28, 2017. Nagapasa 403 is the third submarine in the Indonesian Navy and was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in South Korea. AFP Contributor/Getty

Newsweek reached out to the defense departments in Singapore, Australia and India for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

While speaking with Reuters, military analyst Soleman Ponto said: "We don't know yet whether the communication equipments were broken or the submarine has sunken. We have to wait for at least three days."

The 1,395-ton submarine that went missing was built in Germany in 1977, the Indonesia defense department noted in the press release. The ship first joined the Indonesian navy in 1981, and is one of five submarines in the country's naval fleet.

Oil spill discovered

While the Indonesian military was conducting their initial search for the submarine, a helicopter discovered an oil spill near the location where the submarine traveled underwater.

Newsweek reached out to the Indonesian Defense Ministry for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.