Surabaya, Indonesia – Until Sunday afternoon, Winny Widayanti was still trying to contact her husband, Colonel Harry Setiawan, 45, one of the 53 crew aboard the Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala-402.
She took pictures of her husband’s friends who came to their house and sent them to her and continued to send updates on their children, even though the messages were never returned.
“My heart is broken. It’s completely destroyed. The hardest part is explaining it to my youngest child. I can’t hold back my tears,” she told Al Jazeera.
Sunday evening, the Indonesian army ad that they found the hit submarine at a depth of almost 840 meters (2,755 feet), broken into three pieces. Speaking at a press conference, the military leader, Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, also announced that the 53 crew members were dead.
The families of the KRI Nanggala-402 crew continued to keep hope, even as scheduled oxygen supplies ran out on Saturday, and had prayed for the safe return of crew members who had been missing for nearly a week. The submarine lost contact on Wednesday as it conducted live-fire torpedo exercises in the waters north of the Indonesian island of Bali in the wee hours of the morning.
But as news of the sailors’ deaths spread, family members paid tribute to the crew of the distressed submarine, built in 1977 and commissioned for the Indonesian Navy in 1981.
‘A great man’
Aura Aulia told Al Jazeera that her father, Second Lieutenant Munawir, was a serious and straightforward sailor who was known for his disciplined style.
“If someone asked him to do something, he would immediately start working on it without a word,” she says.
“Even when he wasn’t working, he always wanted to do something productive like tinker with his car or motorcycle engine, or fix things around the house.
“He also loved to travel and had a great sense of adventure. He would always take us on vacation all over Indonesia to places like Malang, Blitar and Madura, or we would go out to eat together as a family.
Second Lieutenant Munawir was 41 years old.
Gresilia, wife of First Sergeant Rusdiyansyah Rahman who was in charge of electrical communications on KRI Nanggala-402, told Al Jazeera the couple have an 18-day-old baby and are expecting the father for the first time. . to return from the sea to spend time with their son, Muhammad Elzayn Firendra Rahman.
“He had promised to come with me to have our son vaccinated when he returned from sailing. But now he’s gone forever. I will tell my son that his father was a great man.
“Even though it’s the hardest test of my life, I try to accept it and leave everything to God. May my husband rest peacefully, because he died in the line of duty and the search teams have done their best, ”said the 26-year-old.
More than a dozen ships and aircraft were involved in the search for the submarine, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Australia and the United States having sent specialized equipment to help the Indonesian authorities.
The submarine was eventually located using an underwater rescue vessel sent from Singapore, which was able to obtain visual confirmation of the broken pieces of the KRI Nanggala-402.
The Indonesian military said it would try to “evacuate” the ship after finding debris in the submarine, including prayer rugs and life jackets, but the depth would complicate such efforts and require a specialized equipment.
Colonel Setiawan’s mother Ida Farida told Al Jazeera she was proud of her son – who was not even supposed to be on the submarine but decided to join at the last minute to oversee the exercises training.
“I didn’t want him to be taken first for me, but he died doing his duty. He fulfilled his commitment to his country until the end of his life, ”she said.
The 80-year-old added that she hoped the recovery mission would continue until the crew members were found.
“I hope my child’s body can be found, regardless of their condition. We wish to bury him in the family grave at Cilubajang in Sukabumi with his late father who was a retired air force officer.
On Monday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, announced that the 53 crew members would receive the Bintang Jalasena or Navy Meritorious Service Star, which is usually awarded to members of the Indonesian Navy for service at- beyond the call of duty.
He added that all the children of the crew members would have their education funded up to the baccalaureate level at the university.
Sheva Naufal Zidane, Colonel Setiawan’s 18-year-old son, told Al Jazeera that he plans to follow in his father’s footsteps despite the tragedy that befell KRI Nanggala-402.
“My father was a family man. To me he was a role model and he set a good example for me, ”he said.
“Since I was little, I have always been the closest to my father. He always told me stories about being in the navy. I hope I can also join the Navy. Next year I will take the entrance test and hope to pass and make my dad proud.
Video of Letkol Laut Heri Oktavian and his team singing a love song aboard the KRI 402 Nanggala.
53 sailors, one of whom was my friend, have now left. pic.twitter.com/nVON3tnG4P
– Henrik Paulsson (@henrikrpaulsson) April 24, 2021