To the valiant sailors of the Nanggala 402: fair winds and following seas

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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Le’ Notes #45: A.T. Mahan on naval preponderance

Short note on Mahan’s thoughts on naval preponderance.

Mahan surprisingly wrote a bit on naval diplomacy though he didn’t actually call it such; it was something that academics would later describe. Most of his thoughts on naval diplomacy are not found in his famous work, The Influence of Sea Power upon History. Instead, it is found in a collection of his stand-alone articles in various periodicals which have been compiled under the title The Interest of America in Sea Power.

Though Mahan tends to be associated with the idea of the “big fleet battle” and the six conditions for sea power, he also thought about  how navies could be used to project political power (well, in this case, American power). However, his prescription for “naval preponderance” tends to be overshadowed by his geopolitical thinking. To extract a sliver of Mahan’s thoughts on “showing the flag”—an idea often credited to him (see here and here)—requires careful scouring of his article titled “The Isthmus and Sea Power”.

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Le’ Notes #6: Naval warfare and maritime strategy

This post discusses naval thought and maritime strategy from the three renowned thinkers: Mahan, Corbett, and Till.

Ah, maritime strategy. One of those niche areas where I actually didn’t have to read anything for the week’s lecture since I got the basics down. And no, despite the featured image of the Kagero-class destroyer Amatsukaze, I won’t be touching anything Kantai Collection related. I just find Amatsukaze cute, that’s all.

Despite humans being seafaring creatures for a large portion of history (this was especially true for ancient Indonesians and Polynesians), naval thought only became a “real science” when Mahan started out describing elements of naval power. From thereon, we’ve seen naval thought and maritime strategy develop over the years, from warships to merchant fleets.

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