The KRI Nanggala submarine incident is a red flag to modernize the navy – Analysis – Eurasia Review
By Ronny P. Sasmita
Indonesia became the first South East Asia country to operate submarines with two Whiskey submarines purchased from the Soviet Union via Poland in 1959: the RI Tjakra (S-01) and the RI Nanggala (S-02). The decade saw a modernization of the Indonesian Navy, as well as the purchase of ten more Whiskey-class submarines in 1962.
Later, KRI Cakra-401 and KRI Nanggala-402 were ordered to replace the Whiskey-class submarines made in the Soviet Union, namely the RI Tjakra SS-01 and the RI Nanggala SS-02, which had been withdrawn from service. The two new submarines were West German models of the Cakra class, type U-209/1300. The ships were ordered in 1977 through the Ship Supply Project Team (Yekdakap), led by First Admiral TNI Mochtar.
The recent subject of a tragic accident at sea, the KRI Nanggala-402 was initially completed and delivered to the Indonesian government on July 6, 1981. Minister of Defense / Commander of Armed Forces Security, General TNI Andi Mohammad Jusuf Armin (M Jusuf), inaugurated the ship as KRI Nanggala-402 at Dermaga Ujung, Surabaya, East Java, on October 21, 1981. In the meantime, the KRI Cakra-401 had been inaugurated a year earlier.
The KRI Nanggala-402 weighed 1395 tonnes; its dimensions were 59.5 meters x 6.3 meters x 5.5 meters. The vessel was powered by an electric diesel engine, a 4 MTU diesel supercharger, a shaft producing 4,600 horsepower. The engine was capable of propelling the ship at a speed of 21.5 knots. It was manned by 34 sailors, and was equipped with sonar from the CSU-3-2 suite. Power from the Siemens low-speed type electric motor was routed directly (without a speed reducer) through a shaft to the ship’s propeller. Its weapons load consisted of 14 21-inch torpedoes in eight AEG-made tubes, with targeting via Zeiss-made periscopes positioned alongside a Maschinenbau Gabler snorkel.
The KRI Nanggala-402 received several repairs during its service. The first was carried out at the Howaldt Deutsche Werke shipyard in Kiel, Germany, in 1989. Two decades later, the KRI Nanggala-402 underwent a full two-year overhaul at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), Korea. South, from 2004-2006. In 2009, repairs were carried out again in the same shipyard, and were completed in 2012.
During this latest round of repairs, the sonar system was upgraded, with the pre-existing Atlas Elektronik CSU 3-2 STN system being replaced by a LOPAS 8300 passive sonar from L-3 Elac Nautik, as well as a Kongsberg MSI CMS. -90U MK2. The radar and combat controls have also been updated. Once repaired, the Nanggala was able to fire four torpedoes simultaneously at four different targets and launch anti-ship missiles such as the Sub-Exocet and Sub-Harpoon. In addition, the dive depth has been increased to 257 meters (843 feet) and the top speed has been increased from 21.5 knots (39.8 km / h) to 25 knots (46 km / h).
Lessons learned from the sinking of the Nanggala-402
Tragically, the Nanggala-402 was declared subsumed or sunk on April 24 in waters north of Bali. The submarine had been missing since April 21. Confirmation was obtained after the search team found debris believed to belong to the ship in nearby waters, and the crew members were later confirmed to be dead.
The research team’s working hypothesis was that the Nanggala developed a crack, based on recovered debris.
With reference to the maintenance schedule for the Nanggala-402, whose last repairs date back to 2012 in Korea, we can conclude two things. First, it is possible that the vessel was found to be in good working order, thus rendering a further round of repairs in Korea unnecessary, even though the vessel had not been worked for more than eight years. Second, the parties may not have paid enough attention to this maintenance schedule. Thus, it is possible that this type of information is not well integrated and analyzed in order to influence strategic decision making at the highest level.
The Nanggala-402 incident exposes some harsh realities of the Indonesian armed forces, and its maritime defenses in particular. Before the sinking of the Naggala-402, Indonesia had only five submarines to provide maritime security over a vast area of 3.2 million km. Now there are only four left. Indeed, given the extent of Indonesia’s maritime territory, Indonesia should have at least 12 submarines. Yet, unfortunately, in a 2019 audit of all Indonesian defense equipment, only 50% of it was deemed fit for use. This is an alarming figure considering the vast area of territory over which Indonesia must assert its sovereignty.
In addition, there is a threat from China. China, with its modern and vast army, has begun to maneuver deeper into the South China Sea conflict zone. On April 6, 2021, the Philippine military detected 200 ships from China entering their EEZ territory. Indonesia itself has seen similar incursions, where Chinese ships enter Indonesian waters freely, sparking tensions between the two countries.
This conflict will not be resolved in the next 4 to 5 years. Therefore, Indonesia must start improving its defense position. The government needs to develop short, medium and long term plans to meet Indonesia’s defense challenges. The short term begins with building new alliances. In the medium term, by intensifying economic cooperation with other countries, and finally in the long term by carrying out a military modernization program.
National players like Pindad, a state-owned military equipment company, have indeed become suppliers of arms and equipment to the Indonesian military. But the numbers remain limited to areas such as tactical vehicles and ammunition. If the government is serious about modernizing the military, it must provide large-scale financial support to encourage companies like Pindad to research and innovate, enabling them to produce weapons and defense equipment comparable to those of foreign producers. . Indeed, modernizing the military is a costly and time-consuming endeavor. And as long as the defense budget stays at 1-1.5% of GDP and planning is limited to the replacement of defense equipment, it will move slowly. But the Nanggala-402 incident underscores how critical the initiative is to Indonesian security.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Moniteurgeopolitique.com