Joint Agency Coordination Centre Australia
Press conference with prime minister Tony Abbott and Angus Houston, Joint Agency Coordination Centre in Canberra on the ongoing search for missing flight MH370.
What we are going to do, though, is enter a new phase of search focusing under the sea. The Bluefin-21 submersible will continue in operation. What we are doing, though, is looking to an intensified underwater search involving different technology, in particular using specialised side scan sonar equipment towed behind ships to scan the seabed for evidence of aircraft wreckage.
today’s mission, Bluefin-21 will have conducted a subsurface search of over 400 square kilometres.
And there’s quite a degree of frustration and disappointment that, as yet, the Bluefin-21 undersea search has been unable to find evidence of wreckage on the ocean floor
Well, that was the position we were in then. We are still baffled and disappointed that we haven’t able to find undersea wreckage based on those detections and this is one of the reasons why we are continuing to deploy the Bluefin-21 submersible, because this is the best information that we’ve got. It may turn out to be a false lead but, nevertheless, it’s the best lead we’ve got and we are determined to pursue it.
If everything goes perfectly, I would say we will be doing well if we do it in eight months. But then you have issues, potential issues, with weather, potential issues with unserviceability of equipment. Witness what’s happened with our Bluefin; there’ve been a number of teething problems with it. But, you know, eventually it has done the job in a little bit more time than we had anticipated initially.
Well, it gives you—it probably gives you a very similar image to what we are picking up with the Bluefin at the moment, but what we have to do with the Bluefin—every 20 hours we have to pull it out of the water, download the data, and turn it around, and it then goes on to the next mission.
If I could just at to that, the Bluefin-21 was the perfect platform for what we have been doing up to now. We thought we had a location on the ocean floor. We had a highly adaptive, highly flexible submersible that could go down and check out the area. It’s very manoeuvrable and it works very well and it has gone over the whole high priority area, mapped it all and we haven’t found anything. Now, if we’d had, for example, a towed sonar, it takes half a day to turn a sonar around to come back over the same area. So there’s pluses and minuses with every system that you use and I would say, from our point of view, the Bluefin-21 has delivered exactly the sorts of results we were looking for in these circumstances.