Perth: A mini-submarine hunting for the crashed Malaysian jet in the Indian Ocean will be back in the search zone within days as the Australian ship carrying it was now headed back to the sea.
The Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield is returning to the search area off Western Australia to continue the hunt for missing flight MH370, officials said.
The Beijing-bound plane - carrying 239 people, including five Indians, an Indo-Canadian and 154 Chinese nationals - had mysteriously vanished on March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.
The ship will deploy underwater vehicle Bluefin-21, which will search the seabed in a location in the southern Indian Ocean where pings from suspected black boxes were detected in April.
Ocean Shield has been taking on supplies and undergoing routine maintenance during the past week at HMAS Stirling near Perth, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
The initial deployment of Ocean Shield ran from March 31 until May 5. After five weeks at sea, it returned to port where a software update was run on Bluefin-21`s scanner.
It is now heading back out to sea and will take about three days to reach the search zone, Captain Mark Matthews from the US navy told a press conference.
A total of 4.64 million square kilometres of ocean had been searched as of Tuesday, but no sign of wreckage from the plane has been found so far.
At the request of the Australian government, the US navy will continue to support the underwater efforts in the intensified underwater phase of the search.
Matthews was quoted as saying that the equipment will be used in the same area where sounds consistent with a black box locator were detected last month.
"They`ll either find something or they won`t, that`s about all I can box in, but what you do is you go look at your best indications and you pursue them until they`re exhausted," he said.
Matthews said the Bluefin-21 vehicle will be deployed to do a site scan survey to look for "any non-normal items, any metallic items".
"That whole area has not been fully surveyed so they`re continuing work there," he said.
"Concurrently there`s a team in Canberra that includes Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Boeing and Inmarsat looking at the satellite data, just to take a fresh look, make sure they refine as much as they can the broader search area," he added.
The ship will return at the end of the month, and what happens beyond that will be determined by Malaysian, Australian and Chinese authorities, Mathews said.