KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 – Petronas together with Deftech and Phoenix International consortium will deploy a GO Phoenix Mother Vessel and the Pro Synthetic Aperture Sonar, or ProSAS, which will be towed to join the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the GO Phoenix, which is currently in Jakarta, will depart for the search area today and was expected to arrive in the southern Indian Ocean on September 25. “The GO Phoenix will conduct search activity for 20 days before heading to Fremantle Port for replenishments and is expected to arrive at the port on October 20.
“The vessel is also equipped with a multibeam sonar for blind spots and if any positive leads are identified during the search operation, Phoenix International also possesses recovery capabilities with the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV),” he told a press conference in an update on the MH370 and MH17 tragedies in Kuala Lumpur today. The minister added that the ProSAS which is mounted on the Go Phoenix Mother Vessel has the ability to search up to a depth of 6,000 metres and could cover up to 194 squares kilometres a day. Elaborating further, Hishammuddin said according to discussions between the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and the Assets Deployment Committee on September 3, GO Phoenix will be assigned to sectors 10A until 13A whereas the Furgo Discovery (another vessel) will continue bathymetric survey in sectors 15A until 18A.
He said he and Petronas president and CEO Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar will travel to Perth later next month to receive a briefing on the operations as well as meet the crew and personnel on board the GO Phoenix. The minister added that he will hold further discussions with China next week with regards to the deployment of assets for the MH370 search operation, involving two Chinese ships that were involved in the first phase of the search, namely ZhuKezhen and the Hai Xhun. Meanwhile, asked about the discovery of 58 hard objects in the southern Indian Ocean, Hishammuddin said he would not be commenting on announcements on possible leads until these have first been verified by the proper authorities.
“This search mission is not being done by Malaysia alone, but together with China and Australia, so we have to do joint verification,” he said. On September 14, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the search team for MH370 had found 58 solid objects that were not consistent with the surface of the bottom of the ocean in the search area. Liow said the Joint Agency Coordination Centre, which is in charge of the search mission, was not in the process of collecting the objects for analysis to determine if they came from the ill-fated plane. Flight MH370, which was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members left the KL International Airport at 12.41am on March 8, and disappeared from radar 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 in the South China Sea and Andaman Sea before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced on March 24 that flight MH370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean”. The search for the aircraft is ongoing.