Indonesian corvette damages sonar dome in search for AirAsia aircraft

2:21:00 PM
JAKARTA, -- An Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Laut: TNI-AL) Diponegoro (Sigma)-class corvette sustained damage to its sonar dome while underway to join the search for the AirAsia airliner QZ8501, a TNI-AL source confirmed to IHS Jane's on 21 January.

The vessel, KRI Frans Kaisiepo (368), was on its way to the Java Sea to relieve sister ship KRI Sultan Hasanuddin (366) on 4 January. The TNI-AL has been contributing assets to the multinational effort to recover the aircraft, which crashed into the sea on 28 December 2014 during a flight from Surabaya to Singapore.

IHS Jane's understands that the 1,700-tonne corvette ran aground while navigating the Surabaya Western Shipping Route (Alur Pelayaran Barat Surabaya, or APBS), a busy channel off the Port of Tanjung Perak.

According to IHS Jane's Fighting Ships , Frans Kaisiepo is equipped with the Thales Kingclip hull-mounted sonar system. The vessel, constructed by Dutch shipbuilder Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (then Royal Schelde), is the newest of the Diponegoro class and was inducted into the TNI-AL in March 2009. The service operates a class of four ships, deploying in rotation since 2009 to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) operation off Lebanon.

An official from the TNI-AL's public affairs office told IHS Jane's that while there has been damage to the sonar dome, the system's cylindrical array does not seem to have been affected. "The vessel's underwater search and anti-submarine capabilities should be functioning as usual," said the official.

Frans Kaisiepo has been in drydock at state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL's Surabaya shipyard since 5 January, where it is undergoing further assessments. The TNI-AL was not able to say when the vessel is expected to resume service.

The location where Frans Kaisiepo is believed to have run aground in the APBS is known as Buoy 8, an area understood to be prone to silting.

To better facilitate the movement of vessels in the APBS, in May 2014 the Port of Tanjung Perak's state-owned operator PT Pelabuhan Indonesia III contracted Dutch company Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors BV to broaden and deepen the channel. Work is ongoing.

 Indonesian Diponegoro Class Corvette (SIGMA) KRI Frans Kaisiepo (368).

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