Australia, Malaysia, and China last week jointly announced that Australia has awarded a contract to Fugro Survey Pty Ltd (Fugro) to conduct a search of the southern Indian Ocean sea floor for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Fugro will use two vessels, equipped with towed deep water vehicles and carrying expert personnel, to search the sea floor using side scan sonar, multi-beam echo sounders and video cameras.
The underwater search of the 60,000 square kilometre area is still expected to take up to 12 months to complete. Assets are already mobilising with Fugro Discovery en route to Perth from the United Kingdom.
Fugro Equator, currently acquiring bathymetry data in the search area, will be the second search vessel and will be mobilised when the bathymetry work is complete in mid-September.
The Malaysian Government has committed to support the joint search effort with four vessels. The KD MUTIARA, a naval survey ship will be arriving in late August to join the bathymetric survey work.
Two vessels equipped with side scan sonar and remotely operated vehicles will join the underwater search being led by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).
Malaysian naval vessel, Bunga Mas, will continue to support the search, as it has since April.
The Chinese vessel, the Zhu Kezhen, continues to work in the southern Indian Ocean, surveying the sea floor. China has committed to the Zhu Kezhen remaining in the search area until mid-September.
More information about the search can be found on the JACC website, and in the current (August/September) issue of Position Magazine.