KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 – The fourth search vessel, Fugro Supporter, is expected to arrive in the search area in the southern Indian Ocean and commence search activities for missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft MH370, late January. The Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), in a statement today, said ‘Fugro Supporter’ had been equipped with a Kongsberg HUGIN 4500 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).
“The AUV will be used to scan those portions of the search area that cannot be searched effectively by the equipment on the other search vessels. “It is not connected to the ship by cable, but is rather deployed with a pre-programmed area of the sea floor to investigate,” according to the statement.
The JACC said the AUV would ascend automatically and return to the ‘Fugro Supporter’ in order for the gathered data to be downloaded and the AUV batteries to be changed out with a spare charged set, after each underwater mission. Meanwhile, the JACC said more than 14,000 square kilometres of the seafloor had been searched thus far.
“Assuming no significant delays with vessels, equipment or from the weather, the current underwater search area may be largely completed around May 2015,” it said. Currently, three vessels namely ‘Go Phoenix’, ‘Fugro Discovery’ and ‘Fugro Equator’ have been deployed in the search for the aircraft in the southern Indian Ocean, where officials believe that the Malaysia Airlines airplane MH370 carrying 239 people might have ended.
The ‘Fugro Supporter’ is set to join the three vessels in the remote search zone. The search for Flight MH370 is now in its ninth month since it went missing March 8 last year. The flight, which was carrying 12 crew as well as 227 passengers disappeared from the radar while enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, about one hour after departing the KL International Airport (KLIA). It was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 6.30 am the same day.