An Indonesian naval vessel detected an object with “strong magnetic resonance” at a depth of 50 to 100 meters (164 to 328 feet), Maj. Gen. Achmad Riad, the head of the military’s central information unit, said during a press conference on Friday.
The Indonesian navy expects its warship, the Riguel, to reach the search area Friday morning local time, Riad added. The Riguel is equipped with a high-tech sonar, which uses sound waves to locate objects, and the navy is hopeful it will be able to find the KRI Nanggala-402, a German-made submarine which lost contact during a military exercise in the Bali Strait early morning Wednesday, local time.
“HMA Ships Ballarat and Sirius, both presently at sea on separate regional deployments, are making best speed for the search area,” Australia’s Defense Department said in a press release Friday.
Rear Adm. Mark Hammond, of the Australian task force, added that his thoughts were with the submariners of KRI Nanggala, their families and the Indonesian people.
“As always, we stand ready to assist our fellow mariners in the Indonesian Navy,” he said.
The United States is sending aircraft to assist in the search for the missing Indonesian submarine, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby tweeted Thursday.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of Indonesia’s lost submarine, and our thoughts are with the Indonesian sailors and their families,” he said.
Kirby also said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will speak with his Indonesian counterpart Friday morning to discuss what else the US can do assist.
Answering questions on the submarine’s condition before participating in the war simulation, Margono said the KRI Nanggala-402 and all of its crew are well prepared. It last docked for maintenance in 2020 in Surabaya, a port city on the island of Java, he said.
The military suspects an oil spill seen in aerial surveillance near the dive point on Wednesday came from the craft. Margono said the Navy also found one object at the depth of 50 to 100 meters (approximately 164 to 28 feet) that was magnetic, meaning it likely came from the submarine.
Margono said there are two possibilities to explain the oil spill spotted on the surface: the submarine tank could be leaking because it dove too deep, or the submarine released fluid on board in an attempt to rise to the surface.
Indonesian Navy spokesman First Adm. Julius Widjojono said the submarine has the capability to dive up to 500 meters (approximately 1,640 feet) below sea level, but authorities estimate it went 100 meters to 200 meters deeper than that.