Update on April 25 at 6:20 p.m.: Indonesia’s military officially said Sunday that all 53 crew members of the submarine that sank last week are dead. Rescuers located the wreckage of the submarine that had been missing since Wednesday. The wreckage was at a depth of 838 meters. “Based on the authentic evidence, we confirm that the KRI Nanggala has sunk and all the crew members have fallen,” Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said at a news conference Sunday. Images captured by an underwater robot showed the submarine was in a least three pieces on the ocean floor.
Original post: The slim hope of finding Indonesia’s lost submarine all but vanished Saturday when debris was located that was thought to be from the vessel that lost contact on Wednesday with 53 crew members aboard. Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Yudo Margono
declared the submarine had sunk after rescuers found items, including prayer rugs, thought to be from the 44-year-old submarine. Officials had earlier said that they expected that the oxygen supply at the German-built KRI Nanggala 402 would run out by early Saturday morning. “With the authentic evidence we found believed to be from the submarine, we have now moved from the ‘sub miss’ phase to ‘sub sunk’,” Margono said.
Sonar technology revealed the sub sunk to 850 meters, far deeper than the collapse depth of 200 meters, at which point the pressure is so great that the vessel begins to split. “If it’s an explosion, it will be in pieces. The cracks happened gradually in some parts when it went down from 300 meters to 400 meters to 500 meters,” Yargono said.
Several countries, including the United States, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and India, have been providing assistance to locate the submarine. The cause is still uncertain as the submarine lost contact during what should have been a routine torpedo drill. The navy is investigating exactly what happened that prevented crew members from calling out for help. “The Indonesian boat most likely went down through an internal problem, through flooding through a pipe that gives way or a battery explosion,” Norman Polmar, an American submarine historian, tells the New York Times.
No bodies have been recovered and officials would not comment on the fate of the crew members. Some family members continued to hold on to the possibility their loved ones would be found alive. “There is still hope, I won’t stop hoping,” said Winny Widayanti, the wife of Col. Harry Setyawan, the commander of Indonesia’s submarine fleet who was aboard. “The men will survive. It hasn’t ended yet.”
*This post has been updated with new information since it was originally published.