Missing Malaysia Flight MH370: UK submarine joins search for missing plane

Royal Navy nuclear submarine HMS Tireless has joined the hunt

Britain's Ministry of Defence said the Royal Navy nuclear submarine HMS Tireless has joined the search for the missing flight MH370 after arriving in the southern Indian Ocean.

Up to 10 planes and nine ships from a half dozen countries are scouring an area roughly the size of Britain, where the plane is believed to have crashed more than three weeks ago.

Search teams in the southern Indian Ocean are locked in a race against time to locate the plane's black box recorder, which has an expected battery life of around 30 days.

Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the head of the Australian agency leading the operation, said the search is "the most complex and challenging search and rescue operation, or search and recovery operation now, that I've ever seen".

The British survey ship HMS Echo is also due to join the search effort for the flight recorder on Wednesday, as authorities in Malaysia said it is focusing its criminal investigation on the cabin crew and pilots of the missing plane.

It has cleared all 227 passengers of any involvement, the country's police chief has said.

The National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the passengers had been cleared of possible involvement in hijacking, sabotage or having personal or psychological problems that could have been connected to the flight's disappearance.

But Mr Bakar cautioned the investigation could "go on and on" and "at the end [...] we may not even know the real cause".

The Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to arrive in Perth late on Wednesday to inspect the search and rescue operations, which are being conducted out of RAAF Base Pearce north of the city.

He will meet with the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Malaysian authorities released the transcript of exchanges between the pilots of the MH370 flight and ground control as it emerged the reported final communication from of one of the pilots was incorrect.

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Investigators are still trying to establish whether the pilot or co-pilot spoke the words, a government statement added,  as criticism continued to mount over Malaysia's handling of the search.

The transcript contained a new version of the conversation between air traffic control and the cockpit of the missing flight, with the final transmission being amended to a more formal “good night Malaysian three seven zero" from the casual "all right, good night."

Additional reporting by agency

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