April 23 (UPI) — The Indonesian military said it has detected an object in the search area of a missing submarine with 53 people on board as foreign nations join in the rescue effort.
The Indonesian KRI Nanggala-402 naval submarine went missing Wednesday during a military exercise some 60 miles off the coast of Bali and officials say it will run out of oxygen by early Saturday.
Maj. Gen. Achmad Riad, spokesman for the Indonesian military, told reporters during a news conference Friday that an object at a depth of between 164 and 328 feet with “strong magnetic resonance” had been detected.
Indonesian warships, airplanes and a helicopter have been scanning the waters for the ship as the KRI Rigel-993 vessel, which is equipped with high-tech detection capabilities, deploys to the site.
Riad said he expects the Rigel’s arrival to the search location later Friday.
Meanwhile, Australia and the United States have dispatched vessels to join the search.
The HMA Ballarat and Sirius on deployment have been rerouted to Indonesia after Jakarta accepted Canberra’s offer of assistance, Australia said in a statement Friday.
The Ballarat, equipped with sonar capabilities, is expected to arrive Friday while Sirius, which is off the coast of Brunei, will arrive to the search area Tuesday.
“These two Australian ships will help expand the search area and extend the duration of search effort,” said Rear Adm. Mark Hammond, commander of Joint Task Force 635. “As always, we stand ready to assist our fellow mariners in the Indonesian Navy.”
John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Thursday that the United States is sending “airborne assets” to assist in the search.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of Indonesia’s lost submarine, and our thoughts are with the Indonesian sailors and their families,” he tweeted, adding Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will speak with his Indonesian counterpart Friday morning “to convey our sorrow and to discuss how else the United States can be of assistance.”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Thursday that he has been monitoring the situation since command lost communication with the submarine a day earlier and that the government will “do its best” to rescue the vessel’s crew.
“I call on the entire Indonesian community to pray that this search and rescue effort is easy and smooth and that the entire crew can return safely,” he said in a statement.