Bluefin-21 Forced To Resurface In Second Mission

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PERTH, April 16 – Bluefin-21, the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) which was deployed for its second mission Tuesday night was forced to resurface Wednesday morning to rectify a technical issue. The Joint Agency Coordination Centre, in a statement issued here on Wednesday, said the initial analysis of the AUV data, which was downloaded while it was on the Australian Defense Vessel (ADV) Ocean Shield’s deck, Wednesday morning indicated no significant detection. However, it was unclear for how long the Bluefin-21 was operated underwater before it was forced to resurface. After the rectification, the Bluefin-21 was redeployed and it is currently continuing its underwater search. Bluefin-21, a probe equipped with side-scan sonar that uses acoustic sounds to create a 3D map of the sea floor, has been deployed in the hope of locating any debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 aircraft.

It was deployed on its maiden mission from the Ocean Shield to a 40sq km area to continue the search operation for the missing Boeing 777-200ER underwater, as there were no further confirmed signals picked up by the towed pinger locator since April 8. Flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew on board left the KL International Airport at 12.41am on March 8 and 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. A multinational search was mounted for the aircraft, first in the South China Sea and later expanded to the Melaka Strait and Andaman Sea before shifting to the southern Indian Ocean. Analysis of satellite data indicated that the plane flew along what is called the ‘southern corridor’ and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth. Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced on March 24 – 17 days after the disappearance of the aircraft – that (the flight path of) Flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”.

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