South Sulawesi govt coordinates with Navy on foreign UUV discovery

Makassar, S Sulawesi (ANTARA) - The South Sulawesi government is coordinating with the Indonesian Naval Base (Lantamal) VI in Makassar to deal with the recent discovery of an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) belonging to a foreign nation near Selayar Island.

The discovery of the underwater drone deep inside Indonesia's territorial waters is obviously an act that needs to be responded to seriously, South Sulawesi Governor HM Nurdin Abdullah told journalists after attending a meeting for budgeting and evaluation here on Monday.

The underwater drone was indeed a part of the foreign country's intelligence mission inside Indonesia's territorial waters, and the South Sulawesi provincial government has coordinated on this with the Lantamal VI, he remarked.

The UUV was reportedly found by Saeruddin, a resident of Majapahit village in Pasimarannu sub-district, Selayar Islands district, South Sulawesi on December 20, 2020.

After keeping it at home for a week, the 60-year-old fisherman handed it over to the local military authorities.

The discovery of a foreign underwater drone that can be used for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, deep water survey, and inspection-related purposes has come under the spotlight of Indonesian and international media outlets.

Saeruddin was quoted by Detik.com as saying that he found the 175-kg drone floating at sea when he went fishing near Selayar Island on December 20, 2020.

The drone was found to be equipped with two cameras and a light that was still active. Saeruddin told journalists that the light was still blinking when he secured the drone.

The local military authorities handed over the drone to the Indonesian Navy for investigation.

Pictures of the discovery indicate the underwater drone resembles the Chinese Sea Wing family of UUVs.

Such drones are also known as underwater gliders. Using variable-buoyancy propulsion and aided by a pair of wings, they can cruise along the sea, gathering data on the surrounding ocean environment.

The Sea Wing family of UUVs along with their western equivalents, such as the American LBS-G, can have dual civilian and military purposes. Typically, the drones gather oceanographic data ranging from sea water temperature, turbidity, and salinity, to chlorophyll and oxygen levels. While this type of data can be useful for scientific purposes, it can also be valuable to naval planners to support fleet positioning and naval maneuvers, observers said.

In particular, submarine operations rely heavily on a sound understanding of the oceanic environment that they operate in. Data collected by these drones can help submariners to position their submarines better and increase their stealth and effectiveness during an operation (Sutton, 2020).

The discovery of a drone deep inside Indonesia's territorial waters may be indicative of China expanding its naval reach, observers said.

The strategic waterways of the Indonesian archipelago are an important gateway for any Pacific powers intending to reach the Indian Ocean.

The fast-growing naval fleet of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), including its submarine force, which is projected to reach 76 submarines by 2030 (O'Rourke, 2020: 7), will require good oceanographic data and maritime charts to support operations beyond the Pacific and into the Indian Ocean, observers said.

Responding to reports on the foreign UUV, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR), Azis Syamsuddin, has urged the government to strengthen Indonesia's underwater defense and security. (INE)

Source: Antara News

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