Indonesian troops say the submarine is missing with 53 ships

Jakarta, Indonesia — The Indonesian navy is looking for a missing submarine north of Bali’s resort island, which has 53 people on board, the military said Wednesday.

Army chief Hadi Tjahjanto said he was participating in a training exercise when KRI Nanggala 402 was unable to answer the scheduled report call.

He said the submarine disappeared in the waters about 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Bali.

Tjahjanto said the Navy had deployed dozens of vessels, including waterway survey vessels, to search the area and sought help from Singapore and Australia, which own submarine rescue vessels.

Local media reports indicate that the Navy believes the submarine sank in a valley 700 meters (2,300 feet) deep.

The Pentagon said in a statement that the submarine lost contact after being granted a dive permit. The helicopter later discovered an oil spill near the starting point of the dive, it said.

The submarine was said to have carried 49 crew members, its commander, and 3 gunners.

The German-made submarine, which has been commissioned in Indonesia since 1981, was rehearsing a missile launch exercise on Thursday. Tjahjanto and other military leaders were to attend.

Indonesia currently has five submarines and plans to operate at least eight by 2024.

As the world’s largest archipelago with over 17,000 islands, the country faces increasing challenges to recent maritime claims, including numerous incidents involving Chinese vessels near the Natuna Islands.

Last year, President Joko Widodo reaffirmed the sovereignty of the country when he visited the archipelago on the edge of the South China Sea.

In his visit, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang argues that Chinese fishermen are free to operate in areas that China claims to be traditional fishing grounds that partially overlap Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone. It was done a week later.

Gen’s statement caused resentment in Indonesia and urged the military to increase its troops on the islands. China has made such claims for years, but recently dozens of Chinese fishing vessels escorted by Coast Guard vessels have taken a more aggressive move in the region, warning of Indonesia’s departure. It is reported to have ignored it.