MH370 Search Found 19th Century Shipwreck

MH370 Search Found 19th Century Shipwreck

Australian Transport Safety Bureau

The MH370 Boeing 777 has still not been found, but at least the searchers got confirmation that their search equipment works. They found a shipwreck.

The MH370 Boeing 777 with 239 passengers is missing since over one year. Despite a massive search operation the plane could still not be found. The Australian Government has revealed that the search mission has discovered a ship wreck.

An unbelievable situation in a day and age of complete surveillance and satellite technology. The Fugro Equator’s deep tow system detected a cluster of small sonar contacts in the southern part of the search area, 12 nautical miles to the east of the 7th arc. The sonar data was right away found to not be from an airplane, but the search team still decided to check it out. 

“We were cautious about this,” said the ATSB’s Peter Foley, Director of the Operational Search for MH370. “There were characteristics of the contact that made it unlikely to be MH370, but there were also aspects that generated interest, multiple small bright reflections in a relatively small area of otherwise featureless seabed. All the sonar data we gather goes through a detailed analysis and an exhaustive review process to ascertain its quality, coverage and most importantly any sonar contacts of interest. The analysis starts with the mission crew on board the search vessels, data is then reviewed again ashore by sonar analysts at Fugro’s office in Perth and then it is independently reviewed by the sonar experts in the ATSB’s Operational Search team. The process is methodical, meticulous and it is designed to ensure that nothing is missed. In this case we  planned to resurvey the contact in more detail when the opportunity arose.”

With an underwater camera the area was explored and a shipwreck found. It is an uncharted wreck and according to Michael McCarthy, a senior maritime archaeologist at the West Australian Maritime Museum, it is a 19th century cargo ship.

“It’s a fascinating find,” said Foley, “but it’s not what we’re looking for. We’re not pausing in the search for MH370, in fact the vessels have already moved on to continue the mission. Obviously, we’re disappointed that it wasn’t the aircraft, but we were always realistic about the likelihood. And this event has really demonstrated that the systems, people and the equipment involved in the search are working well. It’s shown that if there’s a debris field in the search area, we’ll find it.”

As there was no treasure, the main benefit from finding the wreck is the confirmation that the search operation works and they would spot the MH370 on the sea-ground if they find the right location.

In April the participating countries in the MH370 search, China, Australia and Malaysia, agreed to expand the search area in the southern Indian Ocean by 60,000 square kilometers. This means the search area has doubled. 

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