The vessels scanning the Indian Ocean for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, also known as MH370, aren't doing much these days. Of the three ships, one is not in the search area, one is on weather standby and one is only able to work when sea conditions are good, according to an operational search update released Wednesday by the Australian government's Joint Agency Coordination Centre.
"Ongoing poor weather conditions have severely impacted search operations and resulted in delays to search operations of around 6–8 weeks," the update read. "Since the onset of poor conditions associated with winter weather, progress has slowed with only a minimal area searched during this time."
The Fugro Discovery ship recently had to return to Fremantle, Australia, for maintenance. The update said it was on its way back, which Vessel Finder confirmed. The last time Discovery updated its location, it was at 32.03971 S and 115.70058 E.
Meanwhile, the Fugro Equator was on weather standby, and Dong Hai Jiu 101 was searching when it could.
Strong winds and storms have caused problems for investigators looking for any evidence of MH370, a Boeing 777 thought to have crashed in the Indian Ocean in March 2014 with 239 people on board. Authorities can't use certain types of equipment, which has delayed the hunt's end date. The search was initially supposed to end this summer when vessels finished checking over an area of 120,000 square kilometers, but now sweeping the area "may continue well into the winter months," according to the update.
Earlier this month, Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai told reporters a tripartite meeting with leaders in China and Australia was scheduled for July 19. He said the representatives "will make an announcement on the way forward," though the governments have already agreed to end the search if nothing new turns up, according to Reuters.