The robotic mini-submarine deployed to search for the crashed MH370’s debris on Thursday resumed the hunt after eight days of suspended operations ahead of its final week of scouring the Indian Ocean seabed, which will now be mapped to locate the final resting place of the jet.
Bluefin-21, a US Navy probe equipped with side-scan sonar, was redeployed from Australian Navy ship Ocean Shield and is currently continuing its underwater search, Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre coordinating the multinational hunt said in a statement. “Bluefin-21was deployed from the vessel around 2 am this morning. It remains underwater on its search mission,” the statement said.
The underwater search for the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight -- that mysteriously went missing on March 8 with 239 people, including 5 Indians on board -- was put on hold last week due to technical issues. The Bluefin and the transponder were damaged when the vehicle was being hoisted onto the deck of the ship following which the unmanned mini-sub was pulled from the water. It resumed the search in the remote area of several transmissions that authorities believe came from the missing aircraft’s black box recorders.
“Over the next week, Bluefin-21 will search the remaining areas in the vicinity of the acoustic signals detected in early April by the towed pinger locator deployed from Ocean Shield that are within its depth operating limits. This continues the process that will ultimately enable the search team to discount or confirm the area of the acoustic signals as the final resting place of MH370,” the JACC said.
Ocean Shield will depart the search area on May 28 and return to the fleet base on May 31 where it will demobilize the Bluefin and disembark the support team.
The Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen departed Fremantle on Wednesdau to begin conducting the bathymetric survey –mapping of the ocean floor -- of the areas provided by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
Australia has been leading the hunt for the Boeing 777-200, believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean but despite a massive air and sea search, no sign of any wreckage has yet been found. The mystery of the missing plane has baffled aviation and security authorities, who have so far not succeeded in tracking the jet despite deploying hi-tech radar and other gadgets.