China has made progress in helping to recover Indonesia’s sunken submarine, according to state media.
After the Indonesian Navy’s KRI Nanggala 402 submarine sank in an accident near the coast of Bali on April 21, the Chinese military sent two naval vessels and a scientific research ship on May 1 to help with the search and salvage efforts, CCTV reported on Tuesday.
“Currently, the Chinese naval fleet has moved forward from an underwater target survey to the challenging phase of salvage,” Chen Yongjing, defence attaché for the Chinese embassy to Jakarta, told the state broadcaster.
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It is the first time a Chinese submarine rescue team has taken part in an international recovery mission of this type.
By Tuesday, its diving vehicle had completed 13 undersea operations to the submarine wreckage lying 839 metres (2,750 feet) deep, in which they scanned the seabed and collected photos and videos of three main pieces of debris for the next step of the salvage, according to Chen Chuanxu, chief scientist on the research ship Exploration 2.
They retrieved over 700kg (1,540 pounds) of debris, including a life raft from the submarine. The team also found the bow fin that had not been located during earlier searches, Chen said.
“As for the relevant survey data, underwater pictures, videos, and salvaged items, the Chinese side has unreservedly handed them over to the Indonesian military in a timely and safe manner,” the ship’s communication officer Zhang Weijia told CCTV.
The Exploration 2 is owned by the Institute of Deep-Sea Science and Engineering at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Its manned deep diving vehicle, Deep Sea Warrior, can reach a depth of 4,500 metres – China’s most advanced device of this kind.
The Chinese navy’s ocean rescue ship Yongxingdao, named after the disputed Woody Island in the South China Sea, and a tugboat were also involved.
The humanitarian operation was of great significance to the China-Indonesia relationship and promoted mutual trust and cooperation between their militaries, as officials and vessels from both sides worked together on the “complex problem of very deep-sea salvage”, said attaché Chen.
Communication between the two militaries was transparent and efficient and they had held regular videoconferences on technical issues related to the operation, Chen said.
The KRI Nanggala sank during a torpedo drill north of Bali on April 21, killing all 53 people on board. The Lombok Strait is a strategic waterway used as a submarine transit point.
Song Zhongping, a former PLA instructor and military analyst, said the “highly challenging operation” could provide valuable experience for the future and would offer the opportunity to study the topography of the seabed that “would be beneficial to the navy”.
This article China claims progress in helping recover sunken Indonesian submarine after tragedy first appeared on South China Morning Post