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Indonesia Navy - Living Dangerously Under Sukarno

During the period of confrontation [1962-1966], the Indonesian naval capability increased in quality and quantity. The fleet was strengthened by acquisitions from the Soviet Union including cruisers, destroyers, frigates, fast attack missile craft and submarines. The Marine Corps was also reinforced by armored and amphibious vehicles, and naval aviation with ASW helicopters and bombers (IL28). In 1970, after the severing of diplomatic ties with Russia, which created problems maintaining the Russian ships, TNI-AL obtained an ex-US Navy destroyer escort, and an ex-RAN fast attack craft (K-16M class) to replace the ex-Russian vessels.

Four USSR 'Skory' class destroyers were purchased from Poland in 1959, a fifth in 1962 and two more in 1964. Built in the early to mid 1950s, they mounted 5.1" gun, and had a maximum speed of 33 knots. Forces also included 12 frigates. Four were built in Italy in 1958 - 2 `Surapati' class - with 4" guns, 22 knots maximum speed, 2 `Pattimura`' class with 3" guns, 18 knots maximum speed. Two `Riga' class were transferred from the USSR in 1962, 2 more in 1963 and 4 in 1964 - mounting 3.9" guns, 28 knots top speed. There were 17 Corvettes. Fourteen ex-USSR `Kronstadt' type corvettes acquired in 1958. Built between 1951 and 1954, they mounted 3.9" gun, and made 24 knots. That same year they acquired the first of four elderly ex-US PC corvettes built in 1942/43, one of which was removed from service in 1961. These had a 3" gun and a maximum speed of 20 knots.

One Sverdlov-class cruiser was transferred to Indonesia. Originally the Baltisk yard planned an extensive rebuild, however the Indonesian navy could not afford it and it was therefore delivered as-is in 1962. After a one-year transition, the ship formally recommissioned as the Irian. The intended role was a deterrence against Dutch gun cruisers, and to some extent it actually succeeded in that effect. However, the humidity and muddy, high-salinity water wreaked havoc on the ship and by 1964 it limped back to Dalzovod, USSR for an overhaul with only three boilers still working. The Soviet engineers were shocked at the poor condition of Irian, which apparently had received zero maintenance in Indonesia. After repairs the ship returned to Indonesia, but shortly thereafter Suharto took control of the country and cut naval funding. Irian served as a barracks ship, then prison barge, for some time before decommissioning. The empty ship flooded in a 1970 storm and was scrapped.

Between 1959 and 1962 Indonesia acquired a total of 14 ex-USSR `W' class medium size, long-range submarines. One was overhauled in Surabaya in 1960, no doubt with Soviet technical assistance. On receiving the final four in 1962 it was reported that only six would be operational, with six kept in reserve and two used for spare parts. This policy of spare part cannibalization was to be applied ruthlessly to the whole of the Indonesian fleet in future years. The `W' class was armed with guns, heaviest 2.4 inch, and torpedoes, 4 tubes forward and 2 aft. Maximum speed 17 knots on the surface, 15 submerged.

Indonesia started to operate submarines in the early 1960s with the Whiskey-class boats acquired as part of Soviet military aid. The boats were immediately put into action against the Dutch West Guinea in 1961-1962, and against Malaysia and British Commonwealth forces during Konfrontasi (Confrontation) in 1963-1966. However, these boats, by themselves, were of limited utility as an offensive platform. Following a diplomatic freeze with Moscow in mid-1960s, Jakarta gradually phased out the Whiskeys.

The forces of 12 Missile Boats included Ex-USSR Komar Class. Six were transferred to Indonesia between 1961 and 1963, four in September 1964 and the final two in 1965. Armed with 2 launchers for SSN2A (Styx) missiles, they had a top speed 40 knots. A total of 18 Ex-USSR `BK' Class Gun Boats were transferred in 1961/62, armed with 85mm gun, with a top speed of 20 knots. There were 21 Torpedo Boats, including 7 German-built (1959/60) `Jaguar' type. 40mm gun and four 21" torpedo tubes, 42 knots. Ex-USSR `P6' Kronshtadt type, with 8 delivered in 1961, 6 in 1962, mounting 25 mm AA guns, two 21" torpedo tubes, 25 knots. The last, Barakuda 817, decommissioned in 1986.

Other forces included 6 Submarine Chasers [ex-Yugoslavian `Kraljevica' type] purchased in 1958. 3" gun, 12 knots]; 25 Patrol Boats [ex-British/Dutch HDML type built between 1943 and 46. 37 mm gun, 11 knots]; 10 motor launches [ex-US and ex-Dutch] 20 minesweepers [6 fleet, 14 coastal]; 4 survey vessels; 4 depot ships; 9 oilers; and 10 other auxiliaries.




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