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Underwater search begins to locate black box of MH370

Perth: In this Sunday, March 30, 2014 photo, a Towed Pinger Locator (TPL), used to detect black box recorders, sits on the wharf at naval base HMAS Stirling in Perth, Australia, ready to be fitted to the Australian warship Ocean Shield to aid in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Crews searching for the jet launched a targeted underwater hunt on Friday, April 4 for the plane's black boxes along a stretch of remote ocean, with just days left before the devices' batteries are expected to run out. The Australian navy ship Ocean Shield, which is dragging the towed pinger locator from the U.S. Navy, and the British navy's HMS Echo, which has underwater search gear on board, will converge along a 240-kilometer (150-mile) track in a desolate patch of the southern Indian Ocean, said Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search.

The arduous hunt for the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 today entered a new phase with two hi-tech ships scouring a large area

Perth: In this Sunday, March 30, 2014 photo, a Towed Pinger Locator (TPL), used to detect black box recorders, sits on the wharf at naval base HMAS Stirling in Perth, Australia, ready to be fitted to the Australian warship Ocean Shield to aid in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Crews searching for the jet launched a targeted underwater hunt on Friday, April 4 for the plane's black boxes along a stretch of remote ocean, with just days left before the devices' batteries are expected to run out. The Australian navy ship Ocean Shield, which is dragging the towed pinger locator from the U.S. Navy, and the British navy's HMS Echo, which has underwater search gear on board, will converge along a 240-kilometer (150-mile) track in a desolate patch of the southern Indian Ocean, said Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search.

Perth: In this Sunday, March 30, 2014 photo, a Towed Pinger Locator (TPL), used to detect black box recorders, sits on the wharf at naval base HMAS Stirling in Perth, Australia, ready to be fitted to the Australian warship Ocean Shield to aid in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Crews searching for the jet launched a targeted underwater hunt on Friday, April 4 for the plane’s black boxes along a stretch of remote ocean, with just days left before the devices’ batteries are expected to run out. The Australian navy ship Ocean Shield, which is dragging the towed pinger locator from the U.S. Navy, and the British navy’s HMS Echo, which has underwater search gear on board, will converge along a 240-kilometer (150-mile) track in a desolate patch of the southern Indian Ocean, said Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search.

Perth: The arduous hunt for the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 today entered a new phase with two hi-tech ships scouring a large area in the Indian Ocean for the black box of the jet before pings from it fall silent.

Two naval ships with locator capabilities are searching a 240km underwater path, in the hope of recovering the plane’s data recorder that could help investigators unravel the mystery of what happened on March 8, the day the Beijing-bound plane dropped off radar.

Up to 14 planes and nine ships are participating in today’s search for the Boeing 777-200.

The British Royal Navy survey ship HMS Echo and the Australian naval supply ship Ocean Shield began searching the ocean’s depths today, said retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the head of the Perth-based Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), said.

The Ocean Shield is equipped with high-tech gear borrowed from the United States: the TPL-25, a giant underwater microphone that will listen for the pings from the flight data recorders, and the Bluefin-21, an underwater robot that can scour the ocean bed for signs of wreckage. The HMS Echo also has advanced sensor equipment.

But the area of the southern Indian Ocean where British and Australian naval ships are deploying sophisticated listening technology remains nothing more than a guess at where the plane may have hit the water, CNN said.

Time is running out in the efforts to detect the pings as the batteries that power the recorders’ beacons are expected to expire in the next four days.

Nearly four weeks have passed since the jetliner vanished with 239 people, including five Indians on board.

Investigators are still stumped by the case as there are no signs of debris. The area chosen for the search operation is based on the analysis of radar, satellite and other data that led the investigators to conclude that the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

“The area of highest probability as to where the aircraft might have entered the water is the area where the underwater search will commence,” Houston said at a news conference.

“It’s on the basis of data that arrived only recently, and it’s the best data that is available.”

“On best advice, the locator beacon will last about a month before it ceases its transmissions, so we’re now getting pretty close to the time when it might expire,” he said.

Until searchers can find a confirmed piece of debris from the plane, which would give them a clearer idea of where the main bits of wreckage might be located, there is no certainty of finding the black box.

PTI

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