Jakarta, Apr 21 (EFE).- The Indonesian navy said it was searching for a missing submarine with 53 crew members on board Wednesday that disappeared during military exercises a day ago.
The Indonesian military has sought help from Australia, Singapore, and India in searching for the underwater vessel off the coast of Bali island.
According to a defense ministry statement, the 1,300-ton KRI Nanggala 402, manufactured in 1977 in Germany, went missing in waters at a depth of about 700 meters (2,300 feet) Tuesday.
The crew had requested a dive permit during the naval exercise.
The vessel lost contact just when the authorities cleared the dive permit.
The search operation began immediately.
Four hours later, search teams from a helicopter spotted a fuel leak near the area where the submarine disappeared.
Indonesian military chief Air Force Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said the submarine was reported missing 65 km off the northern coast of Bali at 3 am local time.
“(The Navy) lost contact with (the vessel) after it was given clearance to dive,” Hadi told Kompas news agency.
He said he would go to the area Thursday to assess the search operation.
“We still hold out hope of finding the vessel.”
The submarine was to take part in missile launching exercises off Bali Thursday.
The Indonesian army had invited the media to cover the exercise in an Apr.16 dated letter accessed by EFE.
Indonesia currently has a fleet of five submarines.
Three are South Korean made, and two German manufactured, including the missing one acquired in 1981. EFE