In line with an increasing need for the Indonesian Navy’s presence within the country’s territorial waters, Indonesia plans to acquire several new submarines and develop new submarine bases to protect its vast maritime territory, defend its territorial integrity and strengthen its defense systems, particularly around areas bordering with other countries.
Navy chief of staff Adm. Ade Supandi said on Tuesday that Indonesia would require at least 12 submarines and that they should be stationed at different sites around the country.
“The current base for our submarines is in Surabaya, East Java. We will see the future progress and divide the submarines [to be stationed at other sites]. We will select the proper sites for this purpose. But, of course, we can put our submarines anywhere,” Ade said in Jakarta during a media gathering.
Prior to developing the new sites, Ade said the Navy needed to conduct some surveys on potential areas. The selected areas should have supporting infrastructure for defense facilities, he said.
Indonesia procured three Chang Bogo class submarines from South Korea in 2011. Two of the submarines are under construction in South Korea and are expected to be delivered later this year. Meanwhile, the third submarine will be co-built by South Korean and Indonesian engineers in Indonesia.
As part of its medium-term development program, the Navy is still reviewing new submarines from three countries: The Russian Kilo class, the South Korean Chang Bogo and another of German design. This is part of the 2015-2019 strategic plan.
It currently operates two German-made submarines, the KRI Cakra (401) and KRI Nenggala (402), which were built in the 1980s. The boats are due to be decommissioned in 2020.
Previously, IHS Jane, an organization that focuses on defense and military affairs, reported that the Indonesian Navy planned to locate its submarines at Pulau Natuna Besar, the largest island of the Natuna Islands. Natuna, located some 550 kilometers east of Batam Island, borders Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia.
The location was revealed in a transcript of a meeting between Indonesian Military Chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo and House Commission I overseeing defense, intelligence and foreign affairs. The meeting took place in February this year.
“According to the transcript, Pulau Natuna Besar has been selected due to its proximity to the South China Sea, a region that has received increasing attention from the Indonesian Navy recently given Beijing’s increasingly assertive stance in enforcing its territorial claims around the area,” IHS Jane reported.
IHS Jane also mentioned that to fund the construction of the proposed submarine base, the Navy had requested Rp 533 trillion (US$40 million) from the House and the Defense Ministry.
“Part of the funds requested will also be allocated toward upgrading the Navy pier at Sabang Mawang, which is on the same island, so that it can accommodate the deployment of larger naval vessels such as the SIGMA 10514 guided-missile frigate,” IHS Jane said.
Admiral Ade declined to comment on the IHS Jane report.
“I don’t know [where] the information came from. The important thing is we should find the location first [for the bases] and do some surveys whether it is proper or not,” Ade said.
TB Hasanuddin, deputy chairman of Commission I, also refused to comment on the matter. The chief of the Defense Ministry’s Procurement Center Rear Adm. Leonardi said he had no knowledge of the plan.