JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia has found the wreckage of a navy submarine missing since Wednesday and declared all 53 of its crew members dead, the country’s military chief announced Sunday.
Underwater images captured by a remotely operated vehicle showed the wreckage in the Bali Strait at a depth of 838 meters, officials said. A search and rescue team found debris including a vertical rudder, anchor and safety jackets.
“Based on the authentic evidence, we confirm that the KRI Nanggala has sunk and all the crew members have fallen,” Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto told a news conference Sunday.
The announcement came a day after Indonesia’s navy said the vessel had almost certainly sunk. Officials said Saturday that rescuers had found debris floating in the Bali Strait near the Nanggala’s last known location.
Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Yudo Margono said the underwater images showed the submarine had split into three parts: The hull, the stern and the “main parts.” He ruled out an explosion, which he said would have been detected by sonar.
Tjahjanto said the Indonesian government would work with the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office to recover the debris. Margono said the navy would investigate the cause so such an incident “will not happen in the future.”
Tjahjanto offered his condolences to the families of the crew members, and said they would be honored posthumously. Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto also expressed their sorrow.
“All of the fallen crew members were the nation’s best men,” Subianto said. “I believe their dedication will not go in vain.”
Officials said last week that the submarine’s oxygen supply would run out early Saturday. Sunday’s announcement removed the last hope for families who prayed their relatives might be discovered alive.
The submarine was conducting a training exercise Wednesday when it disappeared in the waters north of the Indonesian island of Bali. It fired two torpedoes in the Bali Strait as part of a war simulation, lost contact and never resurfaced, authorities said.
The search and rescue mission drew rescue ships from Malaysia and Singapore and help from Australia, the United States, India and other countries. Rescuers found an oil spill on Wednesday near where the vessel had dived, which might have been a signal from the crew.
The submarine was one of five operated by Indonesia’s military. It was built in the 1970s and refitted to 2012, according to media reports.