An Indonesian submarined is feared missing after it lost contact with the country's military and missed a scheduled reporting call during a torpedo training routine in Bali on Wednesday morning.

It was a KRI Nanggala-402, a 42-year-old German-built submarine that is a part of the 2nd Fleet of the Indonesian Navy and was participating in naval drills that were scheduled to end on Thursday. The drill was being held in the Bali Strait. The officials said the submarine had 53 people on board.

Last contact was made by the submarine to the base on Wednesday, 3 a.m. local time, when it was granted permission to dive. The submarine was feared missing when it didn’t surface for the 6 a.m flotilla exercise, CNN reported. The crew was meant to check in with the submarine that vanished somewhere in the dark waters off the coast of Bali.

The 1,395-tonne vessel was designed in 1978 and received a two-year remodeling in South Korea in 2012, Reuters noted. Authorities told Reuters that rescuers looking for the submarine detected an oil spill in the area where the vessel dived. Two navy vessels equipped with sonar have been dispatched to assist in the search.

First Adm. Julius Widjojono, a spokesman for the Indonesian Navy, said the oil slick may be a sign of the submarine's distress due to a torpedo crack. Such cracks are extremely rare, but it can happen when there is a sudden shift in strain, the New York Times reported.

The possibility of a blackout that can lead to loss of control during the training was also pointed out by the Indonesian Navy. A blackout during static diving can result in the ship sinking to a depth of 600-700 meters (2,000-2,300 feet), when the submarine was designed to withstand pressure at a maximum depth of about 250 meters.

“We are still searching in the waters of Bali, 60 miles (96 km) from Bali, (for) 53 people,” a text message form military Chief Hadi Tjahjanto told Reuters. Tjahjanto said the vessel's contact stopped around 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

According to requirements cited by the navy in a previous training session, the submarine, which is about 196 feet long and more than 19 feet wide, was designed to accommodate 34 crew members. The reason for breaching the maximum limit of the crew onboard during the drill is unknown.

Indonesia's Ministry of Defense said that help from neighboring nations has been sought from their navies. Australia and Singapore have been notified and will join the search operation in the days ahead.

Representation image of a submarine (David Mark / Pixabay) David Mark / Pixabay

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