LAST_UPDATESun, 22 Jul 2018 9pm

This State-Of-The-Art Ship Equipped With Submarine Drones Is On Its Way To Find Whatever Is Left Of MH370

Pic: The EconomistPic: The Economist

THE search for MH370 is back on with the ship Seabed Constructor sailing from Durban today for the search area, 1800km west of Perth.

Website Vessel Finder put the Seabed Constructor, which has been chartered by US company Ocean Infinity, off the coast of Africa Wednesday morning with its destination listed as ”Perth” on February 7.

Neither the company nor the Malaysian Government have announced a final deal for the “no find, no fee search” but it is understood to be very close.

The ship is heading for the area identified by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau as the most likely final resting place of MH370.

This area is just to the north of the previously searched area of 120,000sq km

Ocean Infinity champions a system that uses HUGIN autonomous underwater vehicles capable of operating at depths of up to 6000m to collect high-resolution data at what it says are “record-breaking speeds’’.

The company’s website says it uses six autonomous underwater vehicles but sources have told the search for MH370 would use eight.

“With multiple autonomous vehicle working simultaneously utilizing innovative technology, we are able to survey huge swathes of the seabed, quickly and with outstanding accuracy,’’ the company’s website says.

A story in The Economist said the US company was keen to take advantage of the summer weather and expected to survey 1200 sq kms a day.

Pic: Gulf TimesPic: Gulf Times

The search will begin in a 25,000 sq km area around the lattitude 35 degrees south designated by experts in 2016 as the most likely crash site.

Drift modelling and analysis of satellite imagery significantly boosted confidence among Australian experts that the wreckage of the Boeing 777, which went missing in March 2014, is in the southern half of a 25,000 sq. km.

Scientists identified a location at latitude 35.6 degrees south and longitude 92.8 degrees east, near the seventh arc defined by satellite data, as the most likely location for the missing plane.

However, if the wreckage is not found in the 25,000 sq km search area the vessel will head north to an area around 30 degrees south proposed by independent experts. revealed in in October that the Malaysians were planning to resume the search with Ocean Infinity tipped as the winning bid. The MH370 Response team later confirmed to families of victims this was the case.

The team said it had had looked at “several proposals” from interested parties including an offer by Ocean Infinity to conduct the search on a no-find, no-fee basis.

“These offers have been thoroughly assessed by the team and the Governments of Australia and China have been informed of this in line with the spirit of tripartite cooperation,’’ it said.

“In this regard, the Government of Malaysia has given the permission for the response team to proceed negotiating the terms and conditions with Ocean Infinity.”

However, the company was still awaiting the final contract award prior to Christmas.

- Perth Now