Hunt for MH370: Mini-sub Bluefin-21 to make fresh attempt as deep water aborts first search

By Ritesh K Srivastava | Last Updated: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 11:52

Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava

Perth: The unmanned submarine hunting for wreckage of the missing Malaysian jet MH370 will make a second attempt on Tuesday after aborting its first search mission as it encountered water deeper than its operating limits while scanning the floor of the southern Indian Ocean.

The robotic sub began scouring the bed of the Indian Ocean on Monday to try to determine whether signals detected last week by sound-locating equipment were from the plane`s flight recorders.

The robotic submersible Bluefin-21, loaded with sonar to map the ocean floor from the Australian ship Ocean Shield, which has spearheaded the hunt for the Boeing 777 that vanished on March 8, exceeded its depth safety limit, officials said.

"After completing around six hours of its mission, Bluefin-21 exceeded its operating depth limit of 4,500 metres and its built in safety feature returned it to the surface," JACC said, without detailing the exact depth of operations.

"The six hours of data gathered by the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle is currently being extracted and analysed," the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) which is leading the search said on the 39th day of the hunt for the plane.

The Bluefin-21 will make a second mission today to the remote Indian Ocean seabed if weather conditions permit.

Malaysia`s Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters that it`s "not important" who gets the black box, it`s more important to find the truth.

Finding back the black box is crucial to know what happened on March 8 before the Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 people, including five Indians, an Indo-Canadian and 154 Chinese nationals, mysteriously vanished after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.
The batteries powering the black box are certified to be working for 30 days, but can still provide weak signals for some more days. Stored in a plane`s tail, they are designed to begin sending off distinct, high-pitched signals as soon as they come in contact with water.

Meanwhile, Australian chief search coordinator Air Chief Marshall (retd.) Angus Houston said officials were investigating an oil slick about 5,500 meters from the area where the last underwater sounds were detected.
According to a JACC statement, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has planned a visual search area totalling approximately 62,063 square kilometres today.

The weather forecast for today is south easterly winds with scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms, sea swells up to two metres and visibility of five kilometres.

Up to nine military aircraft, two civilian plane and 11 ships are assisting the search operation.

The mystery of the missing plane continued to baffle aviation and security authorities who have so far not succeeded in tracking the aircraft despite deploying hi-tech radar and other gadgets.

First Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 09:13
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