News / Asia

Dutch Vessel Begins Mapping Ocean Floor in Hunt for MH370

Fugro Equator
Fugro Equator
Reuters
Flight MH370 Timeline
 
  • March 8: Contact lost less than one hour after departing Kuala Lumpur for Beijing    
  • March 10: Search radius expanded, China urges Malaysia to speed up investigation
  • March 12: Chinese satellite images of possible debris are released and determined not to be related to the plane
  • March 14: Media reports say MH370 communications system continued to ping a satellite hours after plane disappeared
  • March 15:  Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak says someone on MH370 likely turned off its communications systems
  • March 20: Australian aircraft investigate possible debris in a remote area of the southern Indian Ocean
  • March 24: Razak says new analysis indicates MH370 crashed in Indian Ocean
  • March 28: Search shifts more than 1,000 kilometers northeast in the Indian Ocean following a new "credible lead"
  • April 1: Malaysia releases full transcript of last exchanges with MH370
  • April 2: Malaysia says all flight MH370 passengers have been cleared of wrongdoing
  • April 4-6: Chinese and Australian ships report hearing signals in different parts of search area
  • April 14: Australia deploys mini-sub in search
  • May 1: Malaysia report says it took 17 minutes to realize MH370 had gone off radar
  • May 27: Malaysia releases raw satellite data used to calculate search area
  • May 29: Australia concludes plane did not crash near where pings were heard
  • June 17: Inmarsat says authorities have yet to search the most likely crash site
Dutch engineers this week started a months-long survey to map unchartered deep-sea terrain at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, the next step in the search for the wreck of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, a company official told Reuters.
 
A survey ship from Dutch engineering company Fugro, carrying 40 crew and technicians, began mapping out an area larger than the Netherlands, some 1000 miles (1,600 km) east of the northwest coast of Australia.
 
The search for the lost plane is being coordinated by the Australian Transportation Safety Board and is expected to cost 60 million Australian dollars ($56 million) over the first year.
 
“It's a rough area,” Rob Luijnenburg, strategy director at Fugro, which usually conducts surveys for oil and telecommunications companies, said in an interview on Thursday.
 
“The area has mountains, ridges, valleys, and you can't see a lot down there unless you make it visible with technology,” he said. “For the first phase you need a good map. Once you have that you can plan the next phase.”
 
It will take roughly three months for the Fugro Equator survey ship, which is being assisted by a Chinese naval vessel, to map out the typography of the ocean floor.
 
Once an accurate map has been constructed with the aid of computers on board the ship, searchers can begin more detailed, slower surveys in a bid to find the wreck itself, using unmanned robots and submarines to search the ocean floor.
 
Flight MH370, carrying 239 crew and passengers, mostly Chinese, disappeared from radar screens on March 8 shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.

Uncharted seabed
 
Investigators say what little evidence they have to work with, including the loss of communications, suggests the Boeing 777 was deliberately diverted thousands of kilometers from its scheduled route.
 
The area being mapped is largely uncharted, Luijnenburg said, since the area's remoteness and depth at 6,000 meters placed it beyond the reach of the oil industry, which is still pushing down to depths approaching 3,000 meters.
 
With a long maritime history and seafaring expertise, Dutch companies are leaders in the field of complex, large-scale undersea search and salvage operations.
 
Wrecks on which Dutch companies have worked include the raising of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk, which sank in the depths of the Barents Sea in 2000 with the loss of all on board.
 
More recently, Dutch firms were contracted to help salvage the Costa Concordia cruise liner, which sank off the coast of Italy in 2012.
 
Fugro's ship will use an echo sounder for the topographic mapping stage, building up a relatively low-resolution picture of the entire area as quickly as possible, its crew staying at sea for a month at a time.
 
“It's extremely unlikely that we will be able to pick up something the size of an aircraft and make it out to be that at this stage,” Luijnenburg said.
 
Built in 2012, the vessel is one of four Fugro commissioned that is custom-built for undersea surveying, designed to be quiet and not interfere with the sensitive sonar mapping systems, which measure echoes bounced off the sea floor.
 
What little is known of the topography of the area comes from satellite imaging and from surveys made in the past by ships that happened to be crossing the area with sonar turned on, he said. Data gathered earlier is inaccurate, because most of it was collected without the help of satellite positionining.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Clark, Cordell from: Dallas, Texas
June 19, 2014 8:22 PM
I’m amazed that little attention is being given to the deep ocean trenches that are present in areas of the Indian Ocean being searched for Malaysia Flt. MH370. Trenches represent the deepest parts of any ocean, and in the Indian Ocean are precipitous drop-offs of from 12,000 ft. to around 24,000 feet. If Flt 370 sank into an Indian Ocean trench (Java or Diamantina), it would take submersibles with humans at the controls to recover any remains. Java (Sunda) Trench runs along the lower Indonesian islands, turns in a northern direction to end near the Andaman & Nicobar island chains in the Bay of Bengal. These Indian Ocean islands re present the northern direction that MH370 would have taken after communication was lost. Since it’s thought that the plane glided down into the southern Indian Ocean, wreckage could hava sank into the Diamantina Trench, which runs for thousands of miles near Perth, Australia. Considering the vastness of the Ocean, along with degeneration brought on by prolonged water exposure & high pressure conditions, future searches should include islands around these Indian Ocean trenches.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid