PERTH: The protracted search for missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 was boosted Wednesday by the arrival of a British submarine in the Indian Ocean ahead of a visit to Australia by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The personal jet of Oscar-winning New Zealand movie director Peter Jackson is also now reportedly being used in the multinational hunt for the plane that vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board.
Despite extensive scouring of remote Indian Ocean waters by planes and ships southwest of Perth where Malaysia believes the plane went down, nothing has been found so far that would indicate a crash site.
“No significant developments to report,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority tweeted after 10 planes returned from flying sorties on Tuesday evening in a now familiar update on drawing a blank.
But in a boost to the search effort, Britain’s Royal Navy said submarine HMS Tireless has arrived in the area and “with her advanced underwater search capability will be able to contribute to the attempts to locate the missing plane”.
While planes, ships and helicopters have all been deployed, it is the first submarine to be drafted in.
Britain’s HMS Echo is also due in the search zone shortly to assist Australia's Ocean Shield naval vessel, which is fitted with a US-supplied black box detector and is expected to arrive on Friday.
The battery-powered signal from the black box – which records flight data and cockpit voice communications that could indicate what happened to the plane – usually lasts only about 30 days, with time fast running out to find it.
Australia has warned against expectations of quick success in the difficult task of recovering the black box from the deep and vast seas.
Retired Australian air chief marshal Angus Houston, who is heading a new coordination centre in Perth, reiterated Wednesday that the odds were stacked against them.
“The reality is it’s the most complex and challenging search and recovery operation I’ve ever seen,” he told national radio.
“If we don’t find anything on the surface, we’ll have to think about what we do next.”
Prime Minister Najib is due in Perth on Wednesday evening to tour the air base being used as a staging post and meet with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott, as well as Houston. – AFP