Commander of Indonesian sunken submarine was ‘a caring leader’, ‘popular student’: RSIS dons

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·2 min read
Lieutenant Colonel Heri Oktavian at RSIS (second from right). (PHOTO: Constantinus Rusmanto/RSIS alumnus/Facebook)
Lieutenant Colonel Heri Oktavian at RSIS (second from right). (PHOTO: Constantinus Rusmanto/RSIS alumnus/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — Lieutenant Colonel Heri Oktavian, who was among the 53 crew members of a sunken Indonesian submarine, was “a caring leader” and “a popular student” at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), academics at RSIS said on Monday (26 April).

On Sunday, Indonesia’s military said all the crew members from KRI Nanggala-402 that sank and broke apart last week were dead, after search teams found the vessel's wreckage on the ocean floor.

In a Facebook post on the RSIS Alumni Association page, the association expressed its deep sadness over the death of Lt Col Heri Oktavian, who did the MSc (Strategic Studies) Programme at the graduate school of Nanyang Technological University in the 2014/2015 academic year.

“Heri Oktavian always spoke fondly of his service in the Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Laut (TNI-AL, or TNI Navy),” said Dr Bernard Loo, Coordinator of the MSc (Strategic Studies) Programme at RSIS. “He was a popular student and a strong personality in a class of 54 other strong personalities.”

Associate Professor Leonard Sebastian recounted, “Lt Col Heri Oktavian had this unquenchable drive to learn (what Indonesians would say: ‘semangat belajar yang tinggi’). He was also an inspiring figure to his fellow mariners able to encourage them to strive for greater heights in their studies and their careers. He was a caring leader, always supporting the men under his command or to use the Javanese term ‘ngemong’.”

On Monday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo sent his condolences to the families of the crew in an address to the nation.

In a separate post in Sunday, Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said he called his Indonesian counterpart Prabowo Subianto to offer the deepest condolences of Ministry of Defence and the Singapore Armed Forces to the families of the crew. 

Dr Ng said the Indonesian Navy ship KRI Rigel had located the submarine's wreckage in the Bali strait with their sonar by cueing the Republic of Singapore Navy's MV Swift Rescue using its remotely operated vehicle. 

"We grieve together with the TNI (Indonesian National Armed Forces) and the affected families for the loss of these brave men and patriots of the Golden Shark unit on board KRI Nanggala. May they rest in peace, having served their country with the utmost dedication and ultimate sacrifice."

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