Tahlequah Daily Press

Get the scoop!

April 14, 2014

Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

The deployment of the submersible drone opens a new phase in the five-week search, one focusing on a pitch-black, silt-covered patch of the ocean floor. The drone moves at walking speed, and searching with it will be painstaking. But it allows investigators to follow up on their best lead to date: deep-sea acoustic signals that have come from the Boeing 777's black box.

The submersible drone, known as the Bluefin-21, will use sonar to provide search crews with a three-dimensional map of the Indian Ocean floor, an area so unexplored that it is practically "new to man," said Angus Houston, the Australian official in charge of the search. The Bluefin-21 will likely begin its mission Monday evening.

Thirty-eight days into the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished with 239 passengers and crew on board, there have been no confirmed sightings of debris. The best hint of the plane's location comes from four acoustic signals - potential black-box transmissions - that were detected by an Australian naval vessel equipped with specialized listening equipment. The last transmission, though, came six days ago, and the aircraft black-box batteries are already well past their 30-day shelf life. The batteries by now could have died, Houston said.

"I would caution against raising hopes that the deployment of the autonomous underwater vehicle will result in the detection of aircraft wreckage," Houston said. "It may not. However, this is the best lead we have.

"We've got to find wreckage before we can finally say we've solved this mystery."

The Bluefin-21 - 16 feet long, yellow, shaped like a submarine - is already on board the Australian vessel, the Ocean Shield, operating roughly 1,050 miles northwest of Perth. For more than a week, the Ocean Shield has been dragging a towed pinger locator through the water to listen for possible pings from Flight 370's black box.

Separately, Houston said Monday, the Ocean Shield also came across an oil slick about 3 1/2 miles downwind from the area where it picked up the signals. Though the oil slick could be unrelated to the plane, about half a gallon has been sampled for analysis - a process that will take several days, Houston said.

The Ocean Shield doesn't have the capability to use the towed pinger locator - connected to miles of cables - and the Bluefin-21 at the same time. The four pings were detected in a loose oval about 20 to 25 miles apart; that translates into an underwater search zone of some 500 square miles. Search officials had been hoping that additional detections could help narrow the ocean floor area where the submersible will scan for evidence of the plane. The U.S. Navy said the submersible will need anywhere from six weeks to two months to scan the underwater search area.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said last week that authorities were "confident" that the deep-sea pings were coming from the missing plane's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.

The underwater operation will be a slow one, moving in 24-hour cycles. The submersible will spend 20 hours at a time underwater: two hours to make the dive, 16 hours scanning the depths, and two more hours for the ascent. Crew members on the Ocean Shield will then take four hours to download the data. The Bluefin-21 does not transmit information about what it is seeing in real time.

The Bluefin-21 will be operating in depths approaching its technological limits, but U.S. naval officials say they believe the drone will be effective.

Houston said the submersible would begin its search "in the most likely spot" of the wreckage, but he gave no additional specifics about that location. He added that a search for any debris bobbing on the ocean surface could wind down later this week after consultation with the other countries involved.

"The chances of any floating material being recovered have greatly diminished," Houston said.

For now, the disappearance of Flight 370 - a red-eye from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing - remains a dismaying mystery. Malaysian authorities say the flight was steered off course deliberately, though they have not indicated a culprit or provided any suggestion of a motive.

 Investigators determined based on communication between the plane and a satellite that Flight 370 almost certainly crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, presumably after running out of fuel. The search field has narrowed significantly in recent weeks, but 12 aircraft and 15 ships were still scouring an area of more than 18,000 square miles on Monday.

Countries involved in the search, including the United States, are running up "big costs," Houston said, and he warned that the hunt may continue much longer. The only comparable operation, he said, occurred after Air France Flight 447 vanished in 2009 over the Atlantic Ocean. The aircraft's black box was not recovered until two years later. And the ocean where Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is believed to have crashed is nearly a mile deeper.

"I think that gives you some idea of how challenging this should be," Houston said. "And that's why I say we've got to be realistic about this. It may be very difficult to find something, and you don't know how good any lead is until you get your eyes on the wreckage."

 

1
Text Only
Get the scoop!
  • 20140727-AMX-GUNS271.jpg Beretta, other gun makers heading to friendlier states

    In moving south and taking 160 jobs with it, Beretta joins several other prominent gunmakers abandoning liberal states that passed tough gun laws after the Newtown shooting.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • HallofFameBraves.jpg Hall of Fame adds businesslike Braves, Frank Thomas, managers La Russa and Torre

    Atlanta Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and their manager, Bobby Cox, dominated much of baseball during the 1990s. This weekend they went into the Hall of Fame together.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 26, 2014

  • Brother sues W.Va. senator over business loan

    U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin's brother claims he's owed $1.7 million that he loaned to keep a family carpet out of bankruptcy in the 1980s.

    July 26, 2014

  • Lynette Rae Sampson.jpg Say what?: Woman arrested after calling EPD to complain her meth was ‘laced’

    A 54-year-old Enid woman is facing felony drug charges after allegedly calling police earlier in the week and telling them she thought her methamphetamine was laced with something. Woman to officer: "I'm glad you came."

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 25, 2014

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
    But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 25, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Inequality crisis shot with factual problems, hypocrisy

    President Obama, various media and political liberals say inequality, of all things, is the defining issue of our times. Yet this message is delivered by multimillionaires and a president who jets from tee time to stump speech on the taxpayer's dime.
     

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • photo of oil tanks and fiberglass salt water tank.jpg Officials investigate oil-covered barn owls, dead birds

    “These birds got into a saltwater tank that was full. Most of it’s saltwater, but there’s the scum of oil on top of it. That’s the reason why the (Oklahoma) Corporation Commission and federal rules say that those tanks have to be covered." — Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Major County Game Warden Lt. Frank Huebert

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 25, 2014

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Stocks