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British Submariners pay respects to Indonesian Comrades

7 October 2021
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Royal Navy sailors and submariners today honoured the 53 crew of Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala with commemorations spanning the globe.

Sailors aboard HMS Richmond in the Java Sea and trainee and veteran submariners at HMS Raleigh and the Royal Navy’s HQ all paid their respects to the Nanggala’s crew.

In London Indonesia’s Ambassador to the UK, Dr Desra Percaya, joined Commodore Jim Perks, Head of the Submarine Service, and the chairman of charity ‘We Remember Submariners’, Ian Atkinson, in laying a wreath at the Submariners’ Memorial on The Embankment.

The serving and retired Royal Navy submariner community has raised £53,000 through pledges and the sale of memorial merchandise to be donated to the 53 families equally. Donations were made by companies involved in building and supporting submarines, and American veterans also chipped in.

The money will be handed over to the Indonesians tomorrow when frigate HMS Richmond arrives in Jakarta on the latest leg of her Indo-Pacific deployment with HMS Queen Elizabeth and the UK Carrier Strike Group.

KRI Nanggala sank in the Bali Sea on 21 April with the loss of all hands having conducted torpedo drills.

Mr Atkinson said: “The loss of any submarine or its crew is felt very strongly within the submarine community. The raising of £53,000 has been a truly collaborative effort, coordinated by the charity We Remember Submariners.

“I am immensely proud of WRS and the submarine community as a whole. Whether serving, a veteran or a family, we are a brotherhood and this is testament to the true ethos of what it means to be a submariner. We will remember them.”

Cdre Perks said: “We were honoured to have been joined by Dr Percaya as we showed our solidarity with the families of the KRI Nanggala submariners and demonstrated that there are men and women thousands of miles away who care deeply about the loss they have suffered having faced the same dangers themselves. We hope we can provide some comfort to those 53 families as they come to terms with their grief.”

The deep – so often our friend – is also our greatest foe. We rely on our submarines, the engineering, the design and the maintenance. We rely on our training, our procedures and our commands. But most of all we rely on each other. We are a brother and sisterhood, a community and a culture.

WO1 Farr

Submarine Service Executive Warrant Officer, WO1 Adrian Parker, two junior ratings from HM Naval Base Clyde, the Indonesian Assistant Defence Attaché, Major Fajrun Shodiq, and two Submariners Association standard bearers were also present for the Embankment ceremony.

Submariners based at the Royal Navy’s headquarters at HMS Excellent on Whale Island in Portsmouth held a service of remembrance in the memorial garden, while trainees and instructors at the Royal Navy’s Submarine School at HMS Raleigh in Torpoint paused lessons and gathered in the atrium for a service of reflection.

Around the same time as proceedings in the UK, HMS Richmond held a two-minute silence for sailors to reflect on the tragedy as the frigate passed through the Java Sea, around 500 miles from where the Nanggala was lost.

Upon arrival in Jakarta, the ship’s Executive Warrant Officer WO1 Matt Farr handed over a cheque for £53,000 to the UK’s Ambassador to Indonesia Owen Jenkins so the money can be distributed among the ill-fated boat’s families.

Having spent 35 years in the Royal Navy – almost entirely in the Submarine Service in both nuclear and diesel-powered boats – WO1 Farr understands the dangers faced by the Nanggala’s crew and said their loss sent shockwaves through “all brother and sister submariners around the world”.
 
He continued: “The deep – so often our friend – is also our greatest foe. We rely on our submarines, the engineering, the design and the maintenance. We rely on our training, our procedures and our commands. But most of all we rely on each other. We are a brother and sisterhood, a community and a culture.”

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