A United States Navy ship may have located the flight recorders of a Boeing 737 that disappeared on New Year's Day in Indonesia with 102 people on board. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta has more.

The USNS Mary Sears has detected signals from the bottom of the ocean on the same frequency as that used in the flight recorders, or black boxes, that belong to the Indonesian budget carrier Adam Air.

The Indonesian government asked the United States for help to locate the Adam Air Boeing 737 after it disappeared earlier this month.

Max Kwak, the U.S. embassy spokesman in Jakarta, said Thursday evening that the Mary Sears detected the signals during a search in the area off Indonesia's Sulawesi island where the plane is believed to have crashed.

"In subsequent sweeping of the ocean floor around the pinger location, the Mary Sears detected heavy debris scattered over a wide area and is currently analyzing that debris to verify if it is from the missing aircraft," he said.

Kwak says the Mary Sears, having completed its mission of locating the black boxes and informing the Indonesian government of their location, will leave Indonesian waters on Friday.

The aircraft was reported missing during rough weather halfway through its flight from Surabaya on Java island to Manado on Sulawesi. A part of its tail and other bits of debris belonging to the plane have been found washed up on the beaches several kilometers south of the town of Pare Pare on Sulawesi.

The pilot of the missing aircraft twice changed course because of bad weather but did not issue a mayday or report technical difficulties.

Adam Air is one of around 30 budget airlines that have sprung up in Indonesia since the airline industry there was deregulated in 1998.

Accidents have become more common in Indonesia since deregulation, raising concerns about poor aviation safety in the country.

The flight recorders keep records of a plane's altitude and speed and some actions taken by the pilots. They are designed to emit a radio signal for several weeks if a plane crashes, to help searchers locate wreckage.