The sailors aboard a missing Indonesian submarine have enough oxygen to last two more days, a defence chief have said.
Yudo Margono, the navy chief of staff, insisted that the KRI Nanggala-402 had been cleared for use prior to it going missing yesterday with 53 crew aboard in waters north of the island of Bali.
The 44-year-old vessel, which weighs 1,395 tonnes and was built in Germany, vanished while conducting a torpedo drill.
Yudo told a news conference today: “The submarine has received a letter of feasibility from the navy.
“It was ready for battle.”
He added that there is enough oxygen aboard the sub to last until Saturday.
It comes as President Joko Widodo said he had ordered “optimal” search and rescue efforts for missing sub, adding that the crew are the “main priority” and expressing sympathy to the families.
An aerial search found an oil spill near the submarine’s dive location, and two navy vessels with sonar capability had been deployed to assist in the search, officials said.
Yudo also said authorities had found an item with “high magnetic force” floating at a depth of 50 to 100 metres.
Earlier, navy spokesman Julius Widjojono told KompasTV that the diesel-powered submarine that runs on electric batteries while submerged could sustain a depth of 250-500 metres (820-1640 ft).
“Anything more than that can be pretty fatal, dangerous,” the spokesman told KompasTV.
The seas in the area are shallower than in other parts of the archipelago but can still reach depths of more than 1,500 metres.
In a statement on Wednesday, the navy said: “it was possible that during static diving, a blackout occurred so control was lost and emergency procedures cannot be carried out and the ship falls to a depth of 600-700 metres”.
Indonesia said a number of countries in the region had responded to requests for assistance.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australia would “help in any way we can”, while Singapore has deployed a
submarine rescue vessel to help, the city-state’s defence minister said, and Malaysia was also sending a ship.
Indonesian military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said yesterday that contact with the vessel was lost at 4.30am and a search was underway 60 miles (96 km) off Bali.
The oil slick could indicate damage to the vessel or could be a signal from the crew, the navy said.
Indonesia in the past operated a fleet of 12 submarines bought from the Soviet Union to patrol the waters of its
But now it has a fleet of only five including two German-built Type 209 submarines and three newer South Korean
Indonesia has been seeking to modernise its defence capabilities but some of its equipment is old and there have been fatal accidents in recent years.