Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: Robotic sub deployed as search for missing plane moves under the Indian Ocean
Autonomous sub can create a three-dimensional sonar map of any debris on the ocean floor
Monday 14 April 2014
Search crews sent a robotic submarine deep into the Indian Ocean to begin scouring the seabed for the missing Malaysian airliner after failing for six days to detect any signals believed to be from its black boxes.
Meanwhile, officials were investigating an oil slick about 3.5 miles from where the last underwater sounds were detected, said Angus Houston, the head of an agency coordinating the search off Australia's west coast.
Crews have collected an oil sample and are sending it back to Australia for analysis, a process that will take several days. Mr Houston said it does not appear to be from any of the ships in the area, but cautioned against jumping to conclusions about its source.
The unmanned underwater vehicle, the Bluefin 21, was launched from the Australian navy ship Ocean Shield, the US Navy said. The autonomous sub can create a three-dimensional sonar map of any debris on the ocean floor.
The move comes after crews picked up a series of underwater sounds over the past two weeks that were consistent with signals from an aircraft's black boxes, which record flight data and cockpit conversations. The devices emit "pings", but their batteries only last about a month and are now believed dead.
"Today is day 38 of the search," Mr Houston said. "We haven't had a single detection in six days, so I guess it's time to go under water."
Read more: Plane
'thrown around like fighter jet to dodge radar'
jet's co-pilot make last-gasp phone call before it
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott raised hopes last week when he said authorities were "very confident" the four strong underwater signals that were detected were from the black boxes on Flight 370, which disappeared 8 March during a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 people on board.
But Mr Houston warned that while the signals are a promising lead, the public needs to be realistic about the challenges facing search crews in the extremely remote, deep patch of ocean - an area he called "new to man".
"I would caution you against raising hopes that the deployment of the autonomous underwater vehicle will result in the detection of the aircraft wreckage. It may not," he said. "However, this is the best lead we have, and it must be pursued vigorously."
Mr Houston, a retired Australian chief air marshal, called the search "one of the largest search and rescue, search and recovery operations that I've seen in my lifetime".
- 2 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 3 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
Nepal earthquake: More than 1,100 killed across four countries and in Mount Everest avalanche
Nepal earthquake: The race is on to help thousands trapped under rubble around Kathmandu, while remote villages face a long wait for help
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...