Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Where Are You Irian?

Dimanakah kau Irian?
Where are you Irian?

The history was dark. Not so clear, how its fate after September 30, 1965 movement (Gestapu). But there is a joke about Indonesian Navy Ships (KRI) Irian: nothing frightened by Irian include Karel Doorman – the Dutch Navy aircraft carrier. There is only one thing narrowing its guts, Hajji Syukri (famous scrap iron skipper in Surabaya).

Someone said it was scrap, another said that has been sold. But some reference shows that, KRI Irian turn into scrap iron during Sudomo become Navy Chief of Staff (KSAL). According to the senior journalist Hendro Subroto, these Swardorf class battle cruisers that only made four by the fabricants sale to Japan after its arms wipe out. “Whereas in Tanjung Priok are still two spare part warehouse. Yet because the maintenance handle by the Russian, after Gestapu we don’t have technician anymore,” Hendro said. Ships with 229 m length and 23,3 m width cruiser type with 1.050 people capacity, entering the Indonesian Navy fleet at October 1, 1962. Ship that buy from the Soviet Union fully armed with 12 cannon 6 inch caliber, 12 cannon 3,9 inch caliber, 32 anti aircraft defense 37mm caliber, 10 torpedo launcher 21 inch caliber, also 250 sea bomb.

At that time, KRI Irian was the largest battle ship in southern region of the world. This type was the last conventional cruiser that build for the Soviet Navy and stopped by Nikita Khrushchev – the Soviet President – considering as an dated type because the introduction of guided missile. It is the first time in history that Soviet sold a large battle cruiser like these to the other country. Indonesia was the first country to operate this kind of cruiser in Asia-Pacific region. Hot temperature and high humidity in tropical country like Indonesia making negative impact to the Navy fleet especially the ships that comes from Soviet which famous with its cold temperature.

With speed around 34,5 mile per hour, ship that moved by 2 shaft geared steam turbine can crossed the sea at least for 5.000 mile. Because its huge side with 15.450-ton dead weight, maximum weight 19.200 ton, surely KRI Irian shaking the Dutch defense during Trikora campaign and becoming Indonesian Navy proud until now. KRI Irian main duty is to find and destroy Dutch aircraft carrier Karel Doorman if they entering the Indonesian sea. But until Trikora was over, KRI Irian never found Karel Doorman. Some source from intelligence said that Karel Doorman was far hanging its anchor in Pacific Oceans and ordered not to enter Indonesian area.

Because the Indonesian Navy never have the fleet before, the crew try to operate these expensive and high technology ship with trial and error method. On November 1962 notes that one diesel engine was damaged because hydraulically collide when they try to up into surface, one destroyer was broke and 3 of 6 ship boiler was also damage. In 1964, this cruiser was fully lost its operational efficiency and decided to send KRI Irian to the Vladivostok for the maintenance. In March 1964, KRI Irian arrives in Dalzavod factory. Soviet technician and sailor were surprised looking the ship conditions and the ships crew obviously didn’t do so many little maintenance that was. They also interesting with small modification by the Indonesian Navy that changing clothes room into prayer room (something that will never happen in communist country). After the maintenance was finish, on August 1964 these ships strive to Surabaya with escort from Soviet Navy Destroyer. A year’s later change of government happen in Indonesia. Soeharto attention to the Navy was very different with Soekarno. KRI Irian leave useless in Surabaya, even sometimes this ship using as a prisoners for Soeharto political rival. In 1970 this useless ship begin to fill with water. No bodies care enough to save this cruiser ship. In 1972, KRI Irian was scrap in Taiwan with the reason cronical lack of spares. Unfortunately, where we have to find its short dedication to this country.

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