Search of MH370 enters new phase with underwater vehicle scheduled for deployment soon

 

 

 

 

BEIJING   2014-04-14   23:08:20

>>  China covers 628,000 sq km searching for MH370

By Jiang Xufeng and Lin Hongmei

Chinese vessels have covered about 628,000 square kilometers in the southern Indian Ocean by midday Monday in search of the missing Malaysian flight MH370, said the China Maritime Search and Rescue Center.

The center had also mobilized 64 merchant ships for assistance, which covered 173,000 square kilometers.

No objects related to MH370 have been found, the center said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC), speaks at a press

conference in Perth, Australia, April 14, 2014. Searchers will deploy an underwater vehicle

within hours to comb the sea bed after the hunt for missing Malaysian flight MH370 dragged

into the 38th day, the search chief said Monday.   Photos by Xu Yanyan

 

Angus Houston (center), head of the Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC), speaks at a press

conference in Perth, Australia, April 14, 2014. Searchers will deploy an underwater vehicle within

hours to comb the sea bed after the hunt for missing Malaysian flight MH370 dragged into the 38th

day, the search chief said Monday.   Photo by Xu Yanyan

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PERTH, Australia   2014-04-14   19:51:49

>>  Search of MH370 enters new phase with underwater

vehicle scheduled for deployment soon

By Xu Yanyan

The Australian and U.S. searchers hunting for the missing Malaysian flight MH370 on Monday confirmed the underwater autonomous vehicle would be deployed ” very soon”.

They also said the task would be difficult since the submarine will have to operate at its depth limit of 4,500 meters and countries involved in the search would consult later this week to discuss future operations since value of the visual search by aircraft and ships is “diminishing”.

According to U.S. Navy Captain Mark Matthews, the Bluefin-21 was scheduled for its first underwater mission at 5 p.m. local time (0900 GMT).

But no confirmation of its deployment is available now since equipment delay is very common due to technical reasons.

Matthews said the Bluefin-21 underwater vehicle works in a 24- hour cycle, with two hours going down, 16 hours of searching underwater, two hours coming up to the surface and four hours for data downloading, analysis and re-programming.

“Once it is deployed, it will operate 35-50 meters above the sea bed and is able to look 300-400 meters each side of its track, which should provide us a very detailed map of the ocean floor which will be analyzed by experts on the (Australian navy ship) Ocean Shield, ” Australian Navy Commodore Peter Leavy told Xinhua.

Chief Coordinator of the multinational search operation Angus Houston has disclosed potential thick silt is expected on the ocean floor where the Bluefin-21 would work, which may cause barriers for the vehicle to scan for possible debris.

“Depends on how thick it is, the site scan sonar of Bluefin-21 is able to penetrate the silt, from no penetration at all to 4-5 meters, but we really don’t know the silt until the sonar gets down there, so there’s a lot to be discovered from the first mission,” said Leavy.

At his morning press conferences on Monday, Houston said no pings had been detected since last Tuesday and it was time for the next step in the search.

“(Australian navy ship) Ocean Shield will cease searching with the towed pinger locator later today and deploy the autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 as soon as possible,” said Houston.

Houston said the failure to detect further signals may indicate that the batteries of the aircraft black boxes may have died 38 days after MH370 mysteriously disappeared.

“It’s time to go underwater,” Houston said, stressing that the following process would be “slow and painstaking.”

The Bluefin-21 underwater vehicle will initially cover an area of 40 square km. Using its sonar equipment, the mini-sub will send back a high-resolution 3D map of the ocean floor for analysts to sort out possible debris of the missing plane.

Houston told reporters at another press conference which was only open to the Chinese media that Bluefin-21 is the only submarine currently available to Australia, but any other underwater vehicles that can go into the deep ocean would probably be useful in the future, provided they have the right equipment to search the ocean bottom.

“It’s a long process because we never had a search conducted in such deep water before, the AirFrance disaster was conducted in a water of 3,000 meters deep, this time we are looking in a water which is 4,500 meters deep, we are dealing with very high pressures and potentially very difficult conditions,” said the search leader.

When answering question by Xinhua whether the current searching focus had been adjusted to underwater mission instead of surface work, Houston said the value of the visual search by aircraft and ships is diminishing “because now it’s the day 38 since the aircraft had lost and we have had no item recovered or identified from the sea which had anything to do with the MH370″.

He also stressed that Australia had a very good cooperation with other countries which were involved in the mission and all the countries that contributed their assets are all still operating their ships and aircraft in support of the search activities and no body has left the search.

Referring to whether those countries would decrease their resources thrown to the mission for surface search, Houston said “they will get together and consult what needs to be done” and he believed that would take place later this week.

The MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 and all traces indicated the plane had ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

Since then more than 10 countries have joined a multinational search operation led by Australia and the Ocean Shield detected four suspicious signals in its mission area during the past week.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said during his visit to China that he was “very confident” the black box of the missing aircraft was just “several kilometers” away in a narrowed grid of 40 km by 50 km.

 

 

 

 

Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 plane flies over Chinese Navy’s amphibious landing vessel Jinggangshan

during a joint search mission for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in Southern Indian

Ocean on April 14, 2014.   Photo by He Jiyuan 

 

A Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 plane flies over Chinese Navy’s amphibious landing vessel Jinggangshan

during a joint search mission for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in Southern Indian

Ocean on April 14, 2014.    Photo by He Jiyuan

 

 

 

 

 

KUALA LUMPUR   2014-04-14   16:42:25

>>  Malaysia needs to upgrade defense system: minister

By Zhao Bochao

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said here Monday that there was a need for Malaysia to upgrade its defense system to enhance its security in light of the missing plane incident.

He said the move was needed in view of the necessity to disclose sensitive military radar information during the search for the missing MH370 flight.

“We’ve made a very courageous decision to put aside national security and interests by disclosing some of our sensitive military radar information in the early stages of the search and rescue mission,” he said.

“The situation now requires us to relook our needs in the future and, more importantly, we’re also looking in the context of the ASEAN region as a group,” he added.

 

 

 

 

 

PERTH, Australia   2014-04-14   14:11:58

>>  Search of MH370 enters new phase with

underwater vehicle to be deployed

The U.S. Navy Captain Mark Matthews confirmed on Monday that searchers will begin to deploy the underwater autonomous vehicle, Bluefin-21, at about 5 p. m. local time (0900 GMT) on Monday, marking a new phase in the search of the missing Malaysian flight MH370.

Matthews made the confirmation with Xinhua after the press conference hosted by Chief Coordinator of the Joint Agency Coordination Center Angus Houston.

Matthews said the Bluefin-21 underwater vehicle works in a 24- hour cycle, with two hours going down, 16 hours of searching underwater, two hours coming up to the surface and four hours for data downloading, analysis and re-programming.

He warned that once the Bluefin-21 is deployed, there will be no updates in at least 24 hours.

At the press conference, Houston said no pings had been detected since last Tuesday and it was now time for the next step in the search.

“(Australian navy ship) Ocean Shield will cease searching with the towed pinger locator later today and deploy the autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 as soon as possible,” said Houston.

Houston said the failure to detect further signals may indicate that the batteries of the aircraft black boxes may have died 38 days after MH370 mysteriously disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

“It’s time to go underwater,” Houston said, stressing that the following process would be “slow and painstaking.”

The Bluefin-21 underwater vehicle will initially cover an area of 40 square km. Using its sonar equipment, the mini-sub will send back a high-resolution 3D map of the ocean floor for analysts to sort out possible debris of the missing plane.

Captain Matthews introduced that the Bluefin-21 will conduct a survey scan of an area of 5 km by 8 km. It will use the side-scan sonar searching 300-400 meters in range and record acoustic returns of sonar transmissions.

The density of the silt at the bottom of the waters can complicated the search but Bluefin has the ability to scan through the silt.

Given the capacity of Bluefin-21 is 4,500 meters underwater, which is the approximately the depth of the waters in the area, Matthews said there is a possibility that other vehicles, both from U.S. Navy and some other sources, including private companies might be involved.

As a new encouraging lead, Ocean Shield discovered oil slick on Sunday in the search area where it had heard four signals possibly related to MH370.

But the source of the oil slick remained to be analyzed, Houston said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PERTH, Australia   2014-04-14   13:21:45

>>  Urgent: Underwater vehicle to be deployed in hours, MH370 search chief

Searchers will deploy an underwater vehicle within hours to comb the sea bed after the hunt for missing Malaysian flight MH370 dragged into 38th day, the search chief said Monday.

The Bluefin-21 underwater vehicle will be dropped into water around 5 p.m. Perth time (0900 GMT), Angus Houston, who heads the Joint Agency Coordination Center in the multi-national search, told Xinhua after a press conference.

Briefing reporters, Houston had said the mini-sub will be deployed as soon as possible, without giving a definite time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PERTH, Australia   2014-04-14   12:46:19

>>  Underwater vehicle to be deployed as soon as possible: MH370 search chief

By Shang Jun

Searchers will deploy an underwater vehicle as soon as possible to comb sea bed for debris of missing Malaysian flight MH370, the search chief said on Monday.

Australian navy ship “Ocean Shield will cease searching with the towed pinger locator later today and deploy the autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 as soon as possible,” said Angus Houston, who heads the Joint Agency Coordination Center in the multi-national search.

The Bluefin-21 underwater vehicle will initially cover an area of 40 square kilometers. Using its sonar equipments, the mini-sub will send back a high-resolution 3D map of the ocean floor for analysts to sort out possible debris of the missing plane.

The decision to deploy underwater vehicle was announced after no new confirmed signals have been detected since Tuesday, indicating that the batteries of the aircraft black boxes may have died 38 days after MH370 mysteriously disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing,

“It’s time to go underwater,” Houston said, stressing that the following process would be “slow and painstaking.”

As a new encouraging lead, Ocean Shield discovered oil slick on Sunday in the search area where it had heard four signals possibly related to MH370.

But the source of the oil slick remained to be analyzed, Houston said.

 

 

 

 

 

PERTH, Australia   2014-04-14  12:21:37

>>  Urgent: Underwater vehicle to be deployed

as soon as possible: MH370 search chief

By Shang Jun

Searchers will deploy an autonomous underwater vehicle as soon as possible to comb sea bed for debris of missing Malaysian flight MH370, the search chief said on Monday.

Australian navy ship “Ocean Shield will cease searching with the towed pinger locator later today and deploy the autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 as soon as possible,” said Angus Houston, who heads the Joint Agency Coordination Center in the multi-national search.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PERTH   2014-04-14   07:33:02

>>  Search for MH370 resumes with no acoustic detection in past 24 hours: JACC

Up to 12 aircraft and 15 ships will assist in Monday’s search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, the Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC) said in its latest update on Monday.

“There have been no confirmed acoustic detections over the past 24 hours,” the agency confirmed in a media release.

Eleven military aircraft, one civil aircraft and 15 ships will assist in Monday’s search.

According to the JACC’s arrangements, Australian Defense Vessel Ocean Shield continues more focused sweeps with the Towed Pinger Locator to try and locate further signals related to aircraft black boxes. The Orions continue their acoustic search, working in conjunction with Ocean Shield. The oceanographic ship HMS Echo is also working in the area with Ocean Shield.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has planned a visual search area totaling approximately 47,644 square kilometers Monday. The center of the search area lies approximately 2,200 kilometers northwest of Perth.

In addition, the weather forecast for the day is south easterly winds with possible showers, sea swells up to 1.5 meters and visibility of three to five kilometers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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