The Indonesian submarine with 53 crew on board that went missing off the coast of Bali has sunk, the country’s navy said on Saturday.
Navy chief Yudo Margono said at a press conference that a search party had recovered fragments from the KRI Nanggala 402, including items from inside the vessel, whose oxygen reserves were already believed to have run out.
Warships, planes and hundreds of military personnel have been searching for the stricken vessel. Authorities had said the German-built craft was equipped with enough oxygen for only three days after losing power.
That deadline passed early Saturday.
“We have raised the status from submiss to subsunk,” navy chief Margono said, adding that the retrieved items could not have come from another vessel.
“(The items) would not have come outside the submarine if there was no external pressure or without damage to its torpedo launcher.”
Navy officials displayed several items, including a piece of a torpedo and a bottle of grease used to lubricate a submarine’s periscope.
They also found a prayer mat.
The submarine – one of five in Indonesia’s fleet – disappeared early Wednesday during live torpedo training exercises off the Indonesian holiday island.
An oil spill spotted where the submarine was thought to have submerged pointed to possible fuel-tank damage, fanning fears of a deadly disaster.
There were concerns that the submarine could have been crushed by water pressure if it sank to depths reaching 700 meters – far deeper than what it was built to withstand.
Indonesia’s military said earlier it had picked up signs of an object with high magnetism at a depth of between 50 and 100 meters, fanning hopes of finding the submarine.
The military has said the submarine, delivered to Indonesia in 1981, was seaworthy.
But Saturday’s announcement means the Southeast Asian archipelago joins a list of countries struck by fatal submarine accidents.
Among the worst was the 2000 sinking of the Kursk, the pride of Russia’s Northern Fleet.
That submarine was on manoeuvres in the Barents Sea when it sank with the loss of all 118 aboard. An inquiry found a torpedo had exploded, detonating all the others.
Most of its crew died instantly but some survived for several days before suffocating.
In 2003, 70 Chinese naval officers and crew were killed, apparently suffocated, in an accident on a Ming-class submarine during exercises.
Five years later, 20 people were killed by poisonous gas when a fire extinguishing system was accidentally activated on a Russian submarine being tested in the Sea of Japan.
And in 2018, authorities found the wreckage of an Argentine submarine that had gone missing a year earlier with 44 sailors aboard.