April 22 (UPI) — Search teams have until about Saturday to find a military submarine that disappeared off the Indonesia coast and its crew of 53 before they run out of oxygen, authorities said Thursday.
The Indonesian naval submarine, KRI Nanggala-402, stopped communicating on Wednesday during a military exercise about 60 miles off the coast of Bali.
Adm. Yudo Margono, chief of staff of the Indonesian Navy, said at a news conference Thursday that the submarine has enough oxygen for the crew until early Saturday morning.
The German-built submarine was in the middle of a dive during the exercise when contact was lost, the Indonesian defense ministry said late Wednesday.
Submarines, airplanes, a helicopter and numerous warships have been deployed to help search for the missing vessel, Margono said — with assistance and offers of help from Singapore, Malaysia, the United States, Australia, France, and Germany.
The Indonesian sub can dive up to 500 meters below sea level, but it went 100 to 200 meters below that depth when it disappeared, authorities said.
Crews found an oil spill near the dive point that they believe might be related to the missing submarine. Margono said the Navy also found a magnetic object that likely came from the vessel.
The 1,400-ton sub was built in the late 1970s and refitted in South Korea in 2012. It was put into service by Indonesia’s military as part of its fleet of 12 submarines bought from the former Soviet Union. Indonesia has been looking to modernize the subs to improve defense capabilities.