01 April 2016
KRI Nanggala 402 (photo : Kaskus Militer)
Indonesia is looking to build a third submarine base in the South China Sea. Location has been proposed against the backdrop of rising tensions in the area (photo : )
The Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL) plans to locate the service's third submarine base on Pulau Natuna Besar, the largest of the Natuna Islands cluster in the South China Sea.
The location was revealed in a transcript of a meeting between Indonesian National Armed Forces commander General Gatot Nurmantyo and the Indonesian House of Representatives commission on defence, intelligence, and foreign affairs (Komisi I) that took place in February 2016.
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 TNI-AL recently given Beijing's growingly assertive stance in enforcing its territorial claims in the area.
To fund the construction of the proposed submarine base, the TNI-AL has requested for a sum of IDR533 trillion (USD40 million) from Komisi I and the Indonesian Ministry of Defense. Part of the funds requested will also be allocated towards the upgrade of a TNI-AL 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 Perusak Kawal Rudal (PKR) guided-missile frigate.
The TNI-AL currently operates a class of two German-built Cakra Type 209/1300-class diesel-electric submarines (SSKs), which are based in Surabaya. The service is expecting the delivery of three Type 209/1400 SSKs from South Korea and has said that it will base the incoming boats in Palu, Central Sulawesi, where the service's second submarine base is currently under construction.
Building a third submarine base on Pulau Natuna Besar is likely being proposed in preparation for the acquisition of additional boats.