Indonesia on Sunday (Jan 4) deployed the controversial KRI Usman Harun to aid in the search for the missing AirAsia QZ8501 plane, as it is equipped with advanced underwater sonar capabilities, according to Indonesia’s Metro TV and Republika.

Both media outlets reported that the Bung Tomo-class corvette was deployed on Sunday, with Republika adding that it was equipped with the Thales Underwater Systems TMS 4130C1 hull-mounted sonar.

The naming of the ship after the MacDonald House bombers, Usman Mohamed Ali and Harun Said, caused tensions between Singapore and Indonesia in February last year, with the Singapore Government sending a Third Person Note, which is a formal diplomatic note, to its Indonesian counterparts to register its regret.

Three people were killed and 33 others injured when the two Indonesian marines bombed the building in 1965. The two marines were subsequently found guilty and hanged in 1968, despite the intervention of then Indonesian president Suharto.

In a previous statement by the Singapore Navy, it mentioned that:

Singapore should tag KRI Usman Harun as a contact of interest as the warship is due to enter service later this year.

Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) warships should politely decline any passage exercises with this vessel, as joint training with it would be a flirtation with a hull that fetes saboteurs who drew civilian blood on our soil.

Singapore’s warships should never come alongside that ship, be it for a heaving line transfer or courtesy call on its deck. Imagine the odd and unfortunate picture of RSN officers dining in the wardroom of that ship with portraits of its dead namesakes staring down on the assembled ranks.

The RSN should further make it clear that that name plate will not be welcome within its naval bases, whether as part of the Exercise Eagle war games or naval shows like Imdex.

In this case, would RSN refuse to work with the KRI USMAN HARUN for QZ8501 search operations? Or will the Singapore Navy be magnanimous, tolerate this insult and carry on for humanitarian reasons?

Similarly, does the Indonesian Navy only have the KRI USMAN HARUN with underwater sonar capabilities? Should the Indonesians have sent another warship with similar capabilities instead?

What do you think?

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