PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Government is doing an exceptional job organising the search-and-rescue (SAR) effort to find the missing Malaysia Airline airplane, says the United States Navy Seventh Fleet.
"I give them a lot of credit. They have done what I would call an exceptional job," said spokesperson Commander William Marks, in a recent interview with Sinosphere, the China blog of the New York Times.
He credit to the Malaysian Government for a 'well-organised' plan in coordinating the SAR effort.
"They coordinate both the water-space and the airspace management. It's like a big chessboard out there. It's really like moving chess pieces around, and that's 3-D. You have three dimensions, you have the water-space and the airspace.
"If you don't do a good job of it, there is a very real possibility of an accident. They track all these assets coming in from all these countries, they make assignments, and they're very efficient, very professional," Marks said.
Two US Navy guided-missile destroyers, the Pickney and Kidd, are among the dozens of ships searching for the MAS plane that disappeared while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing last Saturday.
Marks said the SAR effort was a 'very difficult, very challenging puzzle' as the search box that started closer to Vietnam got bigger with each hour that passed, particularly with the latest report that claimed the plane may have turned around.
"So we are now looking at this area in the northern part of the Straits of Malacca, in case it turned around.
"This is a very large area. We are talking hundreds of square kilometres. The good news is it's an international effort – there are a lot of assets down there. The country of Malaysia is in the lead. They're the lead organisation, and they're doing a terrific job of organising all this. The last information I had, had about 40 different ships here, and over 30 aircraft," Marks said.
To a question on how much longer the search could last, Marks said the first 72 hours was considered as a search mission for the survivors.
"After that, it's at the decision of the Malaysian Government what they want us to do, and where they want us to be," he said.