The crew of the KRI Nanggala 402, a 44-year-old submarine acquired from West Germany and the prideful older sister of the pack, began the exercise by submerging to the depths. But when the submarine crew missed their routine check-in, they started to worry. The last contact was on Wednesday at 0430 hours.
The Nanggala was old, but reliable, the surface operators hoped. She’ll see it through to the end. She’ll come back with her crew safe and sound. But the Nanggala never checked in again. It couldn’t. Its electrical systems had failed, and it could not establish contact, let alone surface.
What was expected to be a routine naval exercise had turned into a search-and-rescue mission and a race against time. The Nanggala, and her crew, were lost in the waters north of Bali.
The clock was ticking. The Nanggala’s oxygen reserves would only last for 72 hours, meaning they had to be extracted before Friday at 0300 hours. Tardiness, even for a second, would put the crew’s lives in peril.
The search was on. Neighbouring countries pledged help: Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, India, and the United States sent assets to help with the search. Everyone’s eyes were on the time-pressed search for the Nanggala and her crew. International coverage spiked and the Nanggala trended.
As the deadline grew closer, hope dwindled. When the deadline passed, what little hope remained had vanished. The Nanggala was declared sunk at 850 meters below (far beyond its ‘crush depth’) and its crew of fifty-three good sailors began their eternal patrol.
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