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Indonesian Naval Battles (updated -2021)

Soviet cogitations: 324
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 16 Sep 2018, 17:29
After the Indonesian Revolution, bringing independence to the state from the colonial control of Netherland, Indonesia begun an official policy of neutrality in the Cold War scenario.
While officially unaligned, the president Sukarno leaning heavily to the communist block and his anti-colonialist policies made him hostile to the west.
The Western powers were extremely worried for the situation, because feared Indonesia could be used as bridgehead for the communist states to expand in Oceania.

Interestingly, Indonesia under Sukarno was not a communist one-party state, and the Communist Party (while supporting Sukharno) retained a large popular consensus with electoral vote.
The CIA begun an heavy campaign of sabotages, secret operations and support to fund rebel groups: while rebellions ended in failures, the same CIA secret operations (that involved air-raid over civilian locations and sinking of Western ships) were disclosed after the capturing of an American airman. It is noteworthy that CIA carried on similar terrorist operations also in other countries (China, North Vietnam, Cuba etc.) often following similar strategies.

On the Naval side of the conflict, the Indonesian Navy scored successes in the ‘50s conflicts (while suffering setback in ‘60s) using former western ships. The Soviet Navy heavily provided a large number of advanced units (including motor torpedo boats, patrol boats, destroyers, submarines and even a cruiser!) but none of these Soviet-made ships had chance to face the enemy in battle.

The military coup of 1965 that ousted president Sukharno matched with one of the worst genocides of 20th Century, hailed at the time by the Western propaganda, and nowadays still not recognized by the Indonesian state (due continuing political repression of the left and communists).


Sources: (great amount of detailed account of Soviet-Indonesian collaboration, operations and training) (for extra details of 1950's operations) (details of losses of merchant)
local Indonesian touristic diving sites
American wikipedia and related articles (for details of CIA raids)


1 May 1950
Indonesian Navy establish a Naval Blockade around the South Moluccas islands, under control by a local rebel force supported by Netherland.

16 July 1950
Battle of Namlea
Indonesian corvette KRI Pati Unus sunk two Higgins-class patrol boats, Jai Lang and BO-42 and captured a third one: D-005. Ships manned by the rebels of South Moluccas.
Details of the rebels units are scarce, with no reason on why they appears to use a completely different nomination.
Officially, Netherland supported the South Moluccas insurgents, but the origin off Higgins-type boats may hint to a CIA connection.
Indonesian ship was former Australian Bathurst class as minesweeper, passed then to Netherlands and then Indonesia after independence.

Photo of Dutch sister-ship HNLMS Ternate (Bathurst class) she was retired in 1958 but some sister-ships (including HNLMS Tidore, later KRI Pati Unus) joined the Indonesian Navy

15 November 1950
Battle of Ambon
Indonesian navy and disembarked soldiers sunk or captured the remained South Moluccas rebels units: ships included the small merchants Kapitan Jongker, Taliwang (176 GRT), Harmin and Melbidir.
Unclear number of survived rebels Higgins-class patrol boats were also sunk or captured. The likely Indonesian warships involved were some or all of the 4 corvettes, former Australian Bathrust class minesweepers.
It is also possible that some of the five available former-American LCI(G) landing ship engaged during the landing operation.
Details of the rebel side are missing; it is likely that presence of Dutch or American advisors was removed from the Island before the offensive to avoid their capture.

On unclear day of November 1951
Dutch minesweeper HNLMS Vlieland sunk in Hollandia (Jayapura). Reason unclear, but possibly not-combat because there is no clear reference to any fighting activity.

28 April 1958
The British tanker San Flaviano (12278 GRT) sunk by CIA-manned B-26 bomber (pilot: William Beale)(no human losses) and the Indonesian corvette KRI Hang Tuah (18 KIA; 28 WIA).
British tanker Daronia (8139 GRT) saved after a single bomb hit her but failed to detonated and bounced back on the sea. Attack occurred at Balikpapan (an important oil terminal).

On the same day another air raid (reportedly a single CIA-manned B-26 bomber pilot: Allen L.Pope)(NOTE: it’s highly possible that another PERMESTA plane performed this attack) hit three western merchants in Ambon harbor. The Greek merchant Armonia (2729 GRT) while reported as sunk by some source apparently was only damaged, and the Panamas merchant Flying Lark (1255 GRT) sunk with 9 killed and 7 missing, the Italian merchant Aquila (5397 GRT) suffered a hit but sunk only on 27 May. However, Allen L.Pope claimed to have attacked Donggala harbor and Soviet sources confirmed the loss of the merchants in Ambon: this is further confirmed by wreck-identification of the Aquila off Ambon by diving in 2009. William Beale reportedly bombed again Ambon on the same day, but claimed only to have hit a military barrack: it is possible two Filipinos mercenaries flying P-51 Mustang fighters attacked the ships, but their identity and detailed activity remains unknown.

It is poorly reported by western sources, but Indonesians indicate the loss of a number of their merchants in Donggala (possibly also by subsequent events): Gili Radja (1013 GRT),Panamanian-flagged merchant Moro (549 GRT), Mutiara (unclear GRT) and Nuburi (unclear GRT). Soviet sources fully confirm the loss of Moro in Donggala (but do not speak of the other ships) stating the vessel arrived from Hong Kong after being chartered by the Indonesian military. It appears clear by now that that the CIA-manned B-26 bomber flown by Allen L. Pope hit these vessels in Donggala while another PERMESTA aircraft hit Ambon. Merchant Gili Radja also mentioned as shelled on 24 May 1958, but details are unclear.

29 April 1958
Indonesian auxiliary patrol boat KRI Intana bombed and sunk by CIA-manned B-26 bomber (pilot: Allen L. Pope). 5 killed, 23 wounded. The ship was in Kendari Bay to ferry Muslim pilgrims heading to Mecca.

30 April 1958
CIA-manned B-26 bomber (pilot: Allen L. Pope) claimed sinking an unidentified merchant. Actually, the plane attacked the Indonesian merchant Tandjung Torawitan (1836 GRT) (formerly Soviet merchant Ivan Goncharov). The ship was carrying a cargo of rice and there were a number of Soviet sailors onboard who helped the Indonesian crew to avoid direct hit but the ship received some damage and 1 Soviet radio operator suffered wounds.

8 May 1958
Unidentified Indonesian gunboat strafed and damaged by CIA-manned B-26 bomber (pilot: William Beale) , two crewmember wounded, previously also destroyed with bomb an Indonesian Catalina seaplane.

13 May 1958
Unidentified Indonesian sailing vessel strafed and grounded by CIA-manned B-26 bomber (pilot: Allen L. Pope) and CIA-manned Catalina seaplane (pilot: Connie W. Seigrist)

15 May 1958
Indonesian transport ship Naiko bombed and set afire by CIA-manned B-26 bomber (pilot: Allen L. Pope), ship carried troops: 1 sailor and 16 infantrymen killed. During the same raid in Ambon, one bomb fell into a market-place killing 6 civilians. Soviet sources actually indicate the victims were christians walking outside a Church. Some American sources for some reason state the claim is “untrue”, despite the deaths being confirmed: these American sources mistakenly say the attack occurred during the previous Ambon raid on 28 April, but actually it’s related to the raid of 15 May because Indonesian authorities focused on his latest activity.

On the very same day, the Indonesian air force hit back the CIA/PERMESTA air-base in Mapanget, destroying their only Catalina seaplane and damaging a P-51 Mustang, this reportedly left only the bomber of Allen L. Pope as active aircraft, because the second plane manned by William Beale already pulled back from the conflict.

17 May 1958
British submarine HMS Aurochs Moluccan Sea suffered an air attack while patrolling the Moluccan Sea off Sulawesi. It appears clear the attack was committed by the very same CIA-manned B-26 bomber (pilot: Allen L. Pope), by strafing but it’s poorly reported because caused no actual damage. British sources officially blamed the rebels for the attack, it’s also possible that the action was carried by a survived P-51 Mustang flown by Filipino mercenary.

18 May 1958
After destroying two planes on airfield (a C-47 transport and a P-51 fighter). The CIA-manned bomber B-26 (pilot: Allen L. Pope) attacked a group of Indonesian ships troops. One of the two transports, the Sawega, missed by a bomb from the plane thanks evasive maneuvers. Indonesian Air Force scrambled the only P-51 Mustang fighter plane available from Ambon (pilot: Ignatius Dewanto): the B-26 bomber shot down by combined fire from fighter and anti-aircraft fire ship. Both CIA pilot and the PERMESTA radio operator bailed out and captured.
The subsequent trial to the CIA pilot exposed the American covert operation and embarrassed the US Administration prompting to give up support to the rebel in exchange for the release of the pilot. Multiple bombing over civilian targets marked the active but ultimately ineffective CIA secret terrorist operation.

27 June 1958
Soviet sources indicate that CIA/PERMESTA activity prolonged after the capture of Allen L. Pope. Possibly by individual action of Indonesian rebel or Filippinos mercenaries, but it’s unclear if they actually used B-26 bombers as stated in Soviet sources (more likely it was a survived P-51 Mustang flown by Filipino mercenary). According this claim, one Indonesian tanker suffered hit near Manado, immediately after Indonesian forces liberated the city, but ship’s identity and actual damage is unclear.

22 August 1958
The former Panama merchant Norse Lady(3082 GRT), under control by PERMESTA rebels (seized on 16 August, after she accidentally grounded on 14 August) shelled by ships of the Indonesian Navy and destroyed her. Wreck later raised in 1966 for scuttling. It is currently unclear which ships of the Navy has been engaged in this action. Indonesian Navy had yet to receive Soviet-made ships, however between January and May 1958 the Indonesian Navy received two light frigates and two corvettes from Italian shipyard (thanks the official policy of political neutrality). The two classes of ships retained an elegant and interesting Italian design.
Photo of the Italian-built light frigate KRI Imam Bondjol

31 December 1958
Indonesian Air Force intercepted and sunk the Panamanian-flagged merchant Seabird(816 GRT), she was smuggling for the PERMESTA rebels. Originally built as a Flower-class corvette, converted as a merchant vessel post-WW2.

15 January 1962
Battle of Arafura Sea
Three Indonesian motor torpedo boats departed to land 150 infiltrators on Dutch-controlled New Guinea.
Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen confronted them, sinking motor torpedo boat KRI Matjan Tutul while both KRI Matjan Kumbang and KRI Harimau suffered damage. 21 died while 59 captured. Indonesian motor torpedo boats opened fire against a Dutch Neptune aircraft during the action but without hits. The Dutch ship was a WWII-era destroyer, but re-rated as frigate alongside sister-ship HNLMS Kortenaer that also took part at the action in addition to the modern Dutch-built and HNLMS Utrecht (Friesland-class).
Photo of the Dutch destroyer in 1951.
Photo of KRI Harimau. Once more it was western-made ships that saw action with Indonesian Navy, while being a modern post-war West-German design (again obtained due the official neutral position in Cold War) the Jaguar-class motor torpedo boats were involved in a mission to land troops when they were intercepted.

24 March 1962
A Dutch Navy Neptune aircraft spotted, strafed and set afire an Indonesian schooner attempting a landing near Fakfak.

25 March 1962
An Indonesian aircraft attacked the Dutch landing craft L-9534 (a LCPR type) inflicting damage and causing 3 WIA off Gag Island.

4 April 1962
The Indonesian naval forces had previously declared a restricted area around West Irian, and one Indonesian Il-28 bomber (pilot: Soeparman Natawikarta) found an unknown ship: she proved to be the Japanese trawler Kyuyo Maru (144 tons) that was then strafed by a MiG-17 (pilot: Nursalim), wounding 4 sailors. The ship then ordered to sail to Sulawesi.

19 April 1962
Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen approached a group of infiltrating Indonesian speedboats off Fakfak and sunk with gunfire one speedboat (5 KIA).

14 May 1962
Dutch destroyer HNLMS Utrecht detained a schooner with 20 Indonesians onboard during an attempted landing at Fakfak.

On unclear day at the end of May 1962
Indonesian Navy detected a ship breaking the restricted area. It was the Japanese trawler Kaigo Maru (100 tons) that was detained by naval units.
It is unclear which ship detained the vessel and the exact fate of the boat. During the month of May the blockade was enforced by the Italian-built corvette KRI Pattimura, two Jugoslavian-built patrol boats (apparently KRI Lajang and KRI Lemadjang) and three minesweeping boats (German R-class) KRI Rengat, KRI Roma and KRI Rangsang, supplied by tanker Bunju (ex-Soviet vessel).
Photo of the Italian-built corvette KRI Pattimura

28 July 1962
Operation Jayawijaya
A large landing operation scheduled against the Dutch present in West Irian never come to realization.
Interestingly, while some western sources describe direct Soviet presence in terms of advisors and planners, it’s poorly known how the Soviet Navy actually deployed a detachment of submarines from the Pacific Fleet! Air raid by large Soviet-manned Tu-16 bombers also scheduled to suppress the Dutch Navy. Contrary to many western sources, no missile-boats was scheduled to take part, as well as no action was planned for cruiser KRI Irian (ex-Soviet, delivered only in October). Some western sources also mistakenly report the Dutch aircraft-carrier HNLMS Karel Doorman. The carrier was actually in Atlantic, and the Americans put pressure to prevent her passing through Panama Channel to de-escalate the situation: interestingly the Soviet sailors and airmen stationed for the operation looked forward for her arrival, to have a chance of attacking her.

Planned air attack for the first Indonesian air attack was 10 August, while the proper landing was scheduled on 12 August.
While the actual landing and air operation did never truly took place, Soviet submarines actually departed from harbor to the combat zone from 28 July:
One by one, the following submarines left Surabaya with the purpose to start a proper military war campaign: S-236, S-235, S-290, S-239, S-391, S-292 (all Project 613). Contrary to some western description, all submarines were fully part of the Soviet Pacific Fleet (turned to Indonesia only in December).
Secret orders opened onboard the ships by captains included war-patrols area and indication to initiate unrestricted submarine warfare against all potential targets.
All submarines reached the assigned patrol area except S-292 (that by the time already received the counter-order), without find potential targets in a completely deserted and calm sea, before receiving transmission to return harbor.
What could have been an open naval warfare confrontation with a NATO country was solved by diplomacy when Dutch government agreed on 29 July to give up the colonial rule on West Irian (West New Guinea).
Photo of a Soviet project 613 submarine

27 August – 10 September 1964
Sunda Straits Crisis
A confrontation between Indonesia and the United Kingdom begun when the Royal Navy attempted to send the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious and her escort to Singapore through the Indonesian straits. On 2 September, the Indonesian Navy dispatched warships into the Sunda Straits, but the crisis de-escalated when the British allowed a passage through Lombok Strait under observation from submarine KRI Alugoro (project 613).

13 December 1964
Australian minesweeper HMAS Teal engaged two Indonesian sampans. Details are unclear, but it appears they were on infiltration mission.
One sampan surrendered after gunfire with light weapons: 3 died and 4 captured.

30 September 1965
Six top military Indonesian generals captured and executed with the accusation of planning a coup. The controversial incident led the accusation to the Communist Party to be behind this alleged coup. This led to a chain of events culminating in the downfall of the Sukarno and the rise to power of Suharto. Currently it is known accusations were false and Suharto himself is believed to have orchestrated the coup as a false-flag accusation against the Communist Party. What followed is widely believed to one of the worst genocides of 20th Century: up 3 million of Indonesians murdered with direct coordination of CIA providing lists for the Suharto’s death squads. The not-militarized Communist Party made little resistance, many massacres included entire communities and villages wiped out with only accusations, suspects or family-ties linking the victims to the Communist Party.

At the time, the western press hailed the massacres. Currently the Indonesian government censorship the massacres and still ban the communist party.

Concerning naval aspects, the Soviet Navy provided the Indonesian Navy with new and more modern updated vessels short time before Sukarno’s downfall. Just right before the coup, the Indonesian Navy was a force to be reckoned with a former soviet cruiser, submarines and destroyers: none of these ships had chance to face the rebels or western forces as intended. It is currently unknown the amount of intelligence gathered by US Navy officers from the Suharto’s regime Navy over the Soviet technology and details of destroyers and submarines. However the ships (while locally significant) were part of the early-cold war ‘50s period, and they were soon surpassed by the next generation of ships of ‘60s. Most of the ships also quickly degraded without technical help, spare parts and specialized workers of the Soviet Union: most scrapped in relatively short time.
Soviet cogitations: 324
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 02 Apr 2021, 09:32
1) Inserted source list
2) Added loss of Dutch HNLMS Vlieland (possibly not-combat, still unclear)
3) Large re-work of the raids on 28 April 1958: Sources linking the bombing made by Allen L.Pope on Ambon city are likely wrong and the losses caused by other aircrafts, because wreck finding in 2009 and the actual American claim match with the bombing of Donggala, where OTHER ships sunk (usually unreported by western media, but at least one confirmed by Soviet/Russian source): smaller merchants Gili Radja , Moro, Mutiara and Nubari.
4) The unconfirmed sinking claimed by Allen L. Pope on 30 April actually match with the Soviet report of attack on merchant Tandjung Torawitan: she didn't sunk, but interestingly was partially manned by Soviet and one sailor wounded.
5) The attack of 8 May was committed by William Beale, not Allen L. Pope
6) Inserted details of the civilian casualties of the bombing of 15 May
7) Inserted detail of the CIA attack against the British submarine HMS Aurochs: interestingly, while American sources deliberately ignore the episode it's fully described by British ones.
8 ) Added one final Indonesian loss on 27 June 1958, AFTER L.Popes' capture. The sinking of a unidentified small tanker (likely local vessel) reported only by Soviet source and with little descriptions of the attacker.
9) Added GRT tonnage of PERMESTA merchant "Seabird" and final fate
10) Added GRT tonnage of PERMESTA merchant "Norse Lady" and her origins.
11) Added some details for the Battle of Arafura Sea including partecipation of other Dutch warships
12) Loss of an Indonesian schooner on 24 March 1962 by Dutch plane
13) Damage to Dutch landing craft L-9534 on 25 March 1962
14) Attack on Japanese trawler Kyuyo Maru on 4 April 1962 by Indonesian aircraft
15) Loss of an Indonesian speedboat on 19 April 1962 by HNLMS Evertsen
16) Seizure of an Indonesian schooner on 14 May 1962 by HNLMS Utrecht
17) Seizure of Japanese trawler Kaigo Maru on unclear day of May 1962 by Indonesian Navy
18 ) Inserted info about the Soviet operation during the beginning of Operation Jayawijaya.
Effectively the Soviet submarines (not Indonesians!) begun a proper war campaign with orders for unrestricted submarine warfare!. This information is usually poorly known and described by Western sources, but detailed in multiple articles of last years by Russian sources. No actual attack committed because the submarines found nothing and were quickly called back to the home port after news of political agreement.
19) Added info of the Sunda Straits Crisis with the Royal Navy, however there was no actual military encounter/clash
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