Indonesian Navy’s Underwater Warfare Capability

The Indonesian Navy, also known as Tentar Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Laut (TNI-AL), operates two classes of submarines: The older Cakra-class Type 209/1300 vessels and the Nagapasa-class Type 209/1400 vessels. A Central Command links the three main Indonesian fleets: The Western fleet in Jakarta, the Central Fleet in Makassar, and the Eastern Fleet in Sorong.

Indonesia has imported submarines from Germany’s Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) and South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME).

Capabilities at a Glance

Total Submarines in Fleet: 5

  • Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBNs): 0
  • Nuclear-Powered attack submarines (SSNs): 0
  • Diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs): 5
  • Air-independent propulsion (AIP) enabled: 0

History of Indonesian Submarine Capability

Indonesia once operated a submarine force of 12 Whiskey-class vessels purchased from the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 70s. However, today it operates a force of four submarines. TNI-AL laid the KRI Cakra (401) in November 1977 and commissioned it in March 1981. It then laid the KRI Nanggala (402) in July 1978 and commissioned it in July 1981.

Indonesia has expressed interest in acquiring more submarines to protect national interests and guard resources and sea-lanes. In 2006, Agence France-Presse reported that Indonesia was contemplating buying a total of 12 submarines from South Korea, Turkey and Germany. Owing largely to budgetary constraints, these procurements did not materialize; nevertheless, officials from TNI-AL continue to express aspirations for a large submarine fleet.

In 2010 Deputy Naval Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Marsetio expressed his belief that Indonesia needed 39 more submarines to protect the country’s vast marine territory against external threats. Media reports citing Indonesia’s Defense Strategic Plan 2024 note that the document is aiming for a capability of at least 10 submarines.

Modernization and Current Capabilities

Since the late 1990s, Indonesia has steadily modernized various aspects of its military structure. The Cakra-class submarines underwent major refits on different occasions, initially by HDW and later by South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME). These refits resulted in the modernization of propulsions systems as well as detection and navigation systems. Also, DSME added new fire control and combat systems.

In December 2011, the Indonesian Ministry of Defense signed a $1.1 billion contract with DSME to increase its Navy with three Type 209/1400 diesel-electric attack submarines by 2020. Two of the vessels, christened the Nagapasa-class, were built in South Korea.

The Nagapasa (403) was launched on 24 March 2016 at the Daewoo Shipyard and was delivered in 2017.

The KRI Ardadedali (404) was launched on 24 October 2016 at Daewoo’s Shipyards and commissioned in April 2018. Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder Perseroan Terbatas Penataran Angkatan Laut (PT-PAL) constructed the third vessel which was launched in April 2019.

In early April 2013, the Indonesian Navy opened the Palu Naval Base in Palu, Central Sulawesi to serve as the Navy’s main submarine base.

Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Marsetio explained that the Palu Naval Base is well positioned to project Indonesian power in the Ambalat region, which is located just 550 km away and is the scene of an ongoing territorial dispute with Malaysia. On 28 September 2018, a tsunami struck Sulawesi, damaging the Naval Base and halting plans to deploy the Nagapasa-class submarines.

Cakra-Class (Type 209/1300)

Cakra-class were ordered on 2 April 1977, designed by Ingenieurkontor, Lübeck for construction by Howaldtswerke, Kiel and sale by Ferrostaal, Essen-all acting as a consortium.

Indonesia possesses two Cakra-class diesel-electric attack submarines. These submarines are 59.5 meters long with a 6.2-meter-wide beam and can travel up to 21.5 knots when submerged. They can remain submerge for about 50 days without surfacing. Their weapons systems are capable of firing torpedoes.

Nagapasa-Class (Type 209/1400)

The Alugoro (405) is the third of the Nagapasa-class submarine. DSME picture.

Indonesia possesses three Nagapasa-Class diesel-electric attack submarines. These submarines are 61 meters long with a 6.3-meter-wide beam and can travel up to 21.5 knots when submerged. They can remain submerged for about 50 days without surfacing. Their weapons systems can fire anti-ship missiles and torpedoes.

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