New phase of MH370 search to include government-furnished assets

A file handout photo taken on April 7, 2014 and released on April 11 by the Australian Defence shows Able Seaman Maritime Logistics – Steward Kirk Scott keeping watch on the forecastle of auxiliary oiler HMAS Success as they conduct a Replenishment
A file handout photo taken on April 7, 2014 and released on April 11 by the Australian Defence shows Able Seaman Maritime Logistics – Steward Kirk Scott keeping watch on the forecastle of auxiliary oiler HMAS Success as they conduct a Replenishment at Sea with HMAS Toowoomba whilst both ships are deployed in search of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. The new phase in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will include Government-furnished assets such as the Multi-Beam Echo Sounder and Prosas Towed Side Scan Sonar. -- PHOTO: AFP

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The new phase in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will include Government-furnished assets such as the Multi-Beam Echo Sounder and Prosas Towed Side Scan Sonar.

Defence Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the assets would be deployed for both the bathymetric survey and the search of the sea floor.

"Datuk Rahim Bakri, the Asset Deployment Committee chairman, recently led a delegation to Canberra to discuss and coordinate the arrangements for Malaysia's participation in this phase of the search operation," he said in a statement on Friday.

On the new phase, Mr Hishammuddin said an expert satellite working group has been working for eight weeks and has reviewed and refined all existing information to define the search zone along the arc in the southern Indian Ocean.

He explained that the refinement of the search area involved the expertise of Australia's Transport Safety Bureau, China's Civil Aviation Administration and Aircraft Accident Investigation Department, the United Kingdom's Air Accidents Investigation Branch, the United States' National Transportation and Safety Board and Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation.

"We are also receiving assistance from many more specialists from around the world," he said.

He revealed that the priority search area was now focused in an area up to 60,000 sq km on the seventh arc, where the aircraft last communicated with the satellite.

"This area is further south along the arc based on the calculations carried out by the expert satellite working group," he said.

Mr Hishammuddin said extremely difficult calculations had to be performed on the specialised satellite communications information in order to refine the search area due to the unprecedented scale and complexity of the search operation.

"A search of the sea floor will be conducted based on analysis from the bathymetric survey. The underwater search is vital as any evidence found will assist in the search for MH370," he said.

Mr Hishammuddin also announced that Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainudin, who is the chairman of the Next of Kin Committee, would be leading a delegation of all four Chairs of the Ministerial Sub-Committees and other senior officials to China on Friday.

"This meeting is primarily aimed at updating our Chinese counterparts on the latest efforts at the tripartite level and Malaysia's contribution," he said.