A third vessel is set to join the ongoing search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre said Wednesday. The news comes just days after Australian authorities said that the focus of the current search will shift to a specific area pointed out by a British pilot of Boeing 777 planes.
Havila Harmony, a Fugro vessel, will have a Hugin 4500 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) that is capable of scouring the most difficult parts of the ocean floor, unlike the Fugro Discovery and Fugro Equator. The remoteness of the search area has been an ongoing challenge in the search for Flight MH370, which went missing on March 8, 2014.
The new vessel is currently being mobilized with AUV search system at the Australian Marine Complex at Henderson, south of Fremantle in Western Australia, and is expected to depart for the search area Saturday. JACC said in a statement that it will “survey the most difficult portions of the search area that cannot be searched as effectively by the deep tow search systems on the other search vessels.”
Currently, only one vessel is conducting search operation after a medical emergency of a crew member on board Fugro Discovery halted operations. The vessel is due to arrive in Fremantle Friday with a crew member experiencing "severe pain."
“This incident is a reminder of the difficult conditions in which crew members work. The vessels spend 42 days at sea between port calls in weather conditions which can be physically arduous and fatiguing for the crew,” JACC said, in the statement.
This is the second such instance after a Discovery crew member fell ill earlier this month, forcing the vessel to return to port so the crew member, diagnosed with likely appendicitis, could receive treatment at a hospital in Australia.
The search for Flight MH370 is underway in a 46, 332-square-mile area in the southern Indian Ocean, where authorities believe the plane went down. About 27, 027 square miles have been searched so far.
Last week, reports surfaced that the deep sea hunt will focus on the area where Captain Simon Hardy believes the plane, a Boeing 777-200, made a controlled ditch into the sea.
"I am fairly confident that wreckage will be found within the next four to eight weeks,” Hardy reportedly said Sunday.
The multi-million dollar search for Flight MH370 has dragged on for months without success. The only wreckage found so far is a wing flap that was discovered in the French island of Réunion last month, but mystery still remains over the disappearance of the jet.