'No possibility of recovery': 53 crew members feared dead as evidence suggests Indonesian submarine sank

Fifty-three people are feared dead after an Indonesian submarine sank off the coast of the island of Bali, Indonesian Navy officials said Saturday. 

Officials made the call after items from inside the submarine were found in the ocean, indicating the vessel, KRI Nanggala 402, had cracked and sunk, leaving no hope of finding survivors alive.  

Navy Chief Yudo Margono said rescuers found several items from the submarine  — including parts of a torpedo straightener, a grease bottle believed to be used to oil the periscope and prayer rugs. The submarine disappeared after its last reported dive Wednesday off the resort island of Bali,

"With the authentic evidence we found believed to be from the submarine, we have now moved from the 'sub miss' phase to 'sub sunk,'" Margono said at a press conference in Bali where the found items were displayed.

Officials have said the submarine's oxygen supply would have run out early Saturday. Indonesia had previously considered the submarine missing.

Finding objects that used to be inside the submarine dashes any hope that the vessel may still be functioning, Frank Owen, secretary of the Submarine Institute of Australia, told USA TODAY.

"Those items can only have come from inside the submarine, and you don't just open the hull and release things," Owen said. "That means the hull has been breached and once that has happened, there's no possibility of recovery."  

An American reconnaissance plane, a P-8 Poseidon, landed early Saturday and was set to join the search, along with 20 Indonesian ships, a sonar-equipped Australian warship and four Indonesian aircraft.

Singaporean rescue ships were also expected later Saturday, while Malaysian rescue vessels were due to arrive Sunday, bolstering the underwater hunt, Indonesia military spokesperson Djawara Whimbo said earlier Saturday. He had said Indonesia’s hydrographic vessel was still unable to detect an unidentified object exhibiting high magnetism that was earlier detected located at a depth of 165 to 330 feet.

The cause of the disappearance is still uncertain. The navy has said an electrical failure could have left the submarine unable to execute emergency procedures to resurface.

The search focused on an area near the starting position of its last dive where an oil slick was found but there was no conclusive evidence so far the oil slick was from the sub.

The sub disappeared Wednesday morning 60 miles north of Bali after a military exercise, Indonesia's navy said. At the time, officials believed that the sub was more than 2,000 feet deep, making recovery impossible, authorities said. It's a depth that threatens to crush a vessel.

The 44-year-old German-made sub did not have an emergency docking collar on it that would allow a rescue submersible to attach itself and allow the crew to safely exit, naval authorities said.

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