KUALA LUMPUR – China dispatched three ships to Indonesia to assist in the recovery of the Indonesian attack submarine KRI Nanggala (402). Two ships – the People’s Liberation Army Navy Ocean Tug Nantuo-195 and PLAN Ocean Salvage and Rescue Ship Yongxing Dao-863 – arrived on the spot on May 3 and the third vessel, a scientific research vessel Tan Suo 2, should arrive today.
Beijing had made an offer to Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto to help rescue the submarine on a humanitarian basis and the offer was accepted, according to press reports. The Indonesian Navy is also in talks with SKK Migas, the country’s oil industry regulator, about carrying out its own rescue operation. The Indonesian operation would involve the use of an offshore support vessel Timas 1201, which is equipped with a crane that can lift loads of up to 1,200 tons.
Little information is available about the two PLAN vessels. Basic information from the Indonesian Navy said Yongxing Dao-863 it had a length of 512 feet and was capable of conducting rescue operations up to 15,000 feet deep, well within the 2,800 feet depth of the sunken submerged. The Indonesian Navy also stated that Nantuo-195 it was a 390-foot ship. Tan Suo 2 is better known – the 286-foot scientific research ship operates under the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering and carries the manned offshore submersible Shenhai Yongshi (Deep Sea Warrior). Tan Suo 2 it also serves as a second mothership for the manned submersible Fendouzhe (Striver), which is capable of operating at a depth of 32,000 feet.
All other foreign vessels involved in the search for the Nanggala left. The Singapore MV Submarine Rescue Ship Quick redemption and the Malaysian underwater rescue vessel MV Mega Bakti returned to their home ports, while the Australian Royal Navy HMAS frigate Ballarat (FFH 155) continued with its operational deployment for the region. HMAS Sirius (O266), which was supposed to join the research, but was probably aborted as soon as the submarine was found on April 25, since then has joined the HMAS Anzac (FFH150). RAN announced on May 3 that the two ships had carried out bilateral transit with the French Navy Jeanne d’Arc Working Group, composed of the amphibious assault ship FS Tonnerre (L9014) and FS frigate Surcouf (F711).
The Jeanne d’Arc Task Group is being deployed in the region and is heading to Japan, where it will conduct an amphibious exercise with Japanese and American forces from May 11 to 17.
Nanggala disappeared on April 21st after being submerged to conduct a torpedo exercise. It is the second of two Type 209 submarines built in Germany and put into service in 1981 as a Cakra class. Indonesian naval officers said a powerful underwater wave caused the submarine to sink, but there is little evidence that substantiate the claim.