HUNT FOR MH370

Malaysia ends contract with one search team

A Royal Malaysian Air Force crew member looking through the window of an aircraft during an operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
A Royal Malaysian Air Force crew member looking through the window of an aircraft during an operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - One of the world's most experienced deep-water search teams will end its hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 after Putrajaya cancelled a contract for their services.

In an e-mail exchange with The Daily Beast news portal, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) on Wednesday confirmed that vessel GO Phoenix and its team will be pulled out of the search today on Putrajaya's instructions, reported The Malaysian Insider.

GO Phoenix is manned by a team of experienced deep-water search technicians. "The GO Phoenix and the experts and equipment aboard are contracted by Malaysia," ATSB spokesman Daniel O'Malley told The Daily Beast via e-mail. "Putrajaya has advised that the contract will end with the completion of the current swing."

The withdrawal of the vessel from the search was also announced in a press statement issued by the Australian government's Joint Action Coordination Centre (JACC), which has been coordinating efforts to locate the plane that went missing while on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 last year. Two other vessels - the Fugro Discovery and the Fugro Equator -will continue the search.

The aircraft was declared officially missing on Jan 29, and all on board are presumed dead.

No trace of the plane has been found despite the largest search operation in aviation history.

After a year of fruitless searching, the search area for the aircraft was doubled to 12,000 sq km on the first anniversary of the aircraft's disappearance. To date, more than 50,000 sq km of the ocean floor have been covered, according to JACC.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2015, with the headline 'Malaysia ends contract with one search team'. Print Edition | Subscribe