PORT KLANG, April 16 – American navy ship, The USS Kidd, which was involved in the search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370, docked in Westport here for a five-day routine port call, beginning last Sunday. Commander Gabe Varela, the Commanding Officer of The USS Kidd, one of the world’s newest destroyers, said they conducted a 10-day search mission for Flight MH370, one to two days after the aircraft was reported missing on March 8. Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, left the KL International Airport at 12.41am on March 8 before it disappeared from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea. It was to have arrived in Beijing at 6.30am on the same day. Varela said during the period the destroyer was conducting routine operations in the South China Sea, it was dispatched to aid in the search for MH370. “The search mission started from the Gulf of Thailand to the northwest entrance of the Melaka Strait and all the way into the Bay of Bengal sea,” he told reporters during a tour of the ship at Westport here Wednesday.
Varela said two of The USS Kidd’s helicopters, MH-60R Sea Hawk, equipped with a thermal imager (FLIR � a forward-looking infra red device) were involved in the search mission for MH370. “We have been working with the Malaysian military for years, and when we were asked to come to assist in the search efforts, we were already conducting communication and coordination with the Malaysian navy and air forces on station,” he added. Meanwhile, The USS KIDD executive officer, Commander T. J. Zerr said the search mission for MH370 was a result of the long-term maritime relationship between the Malaysian and United States (US) navies. The USS Kidd, which was commissioned in June 2007 with close to 300 crew members on board, made headlines around the world when it was used to rescue an Iranian fishing vessel crew from Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea. The vessel which can reach top speeds of more than 30 knots has its homeport base in San Diego, California.