Ocean Infinity’s [OI] vessel Seabed Constructor, along with eight autonomous underwater vehicles, have searched at least 7,500 square-kilometres as of Monday but have yet to find any wreckage linked to MH370, the latest search update released Tuesday said.
After making a scheduled stop in Perth, Australia, for a crew change and supply restock, the vessel is now on the way back to the search area and is expected to arrive on Thursday, according to an update posted on Twitter. The weather is expected to be favourable in the coming week, officials said.
Conspiracy theories swirled last week when Seabed Constructor’s Automatic Identification System was switched off unexpectedly for more than three days then turned back on without reason. In the last three updates from officials, no explanation was given. Some speculated on social media that suspicious movements were tied to a nearby shipwreck and a treasure chest that OI may have went to retrieve from the ocean floor. The company has refused to comment on the development publicly and did not mention it in their latest weekly update.
According to a talking points memo released last month, Malaysia’s Minister of Transport Liow Tiong Lai said there are at least 65 crew members on board OI’s vessel including two representatives from the Royal Malaysian Navy.
“The primary mission by Ocean Infinity is to identify the location of the wreckage and/or both of the flight recorders; Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and present a considerable and credible evidence to confirm the exact location of the two main items.”
OI undertook a 90-day “no cure no fee” search on January 10 in an area identified by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in their final report released in October. The new search came about a year after it was suspended due to a lack of clues and progress in finding MH370’s wreckage.
The area measures 25,000 square-kilometres and is near the “Seventh Arc” off the western coast of Australia. The arc was discovered to be the possible crash site of MH370, according to satellite data that was analyzed after the plane went missing.
The seabed intelligence firm will only be paid if wreckage linked to MH370 is located within the 25,000 square-kilometre area identified by officials last year. The payments range between $20 and $40 million USD based on where possible wreckage is located, Minister Liow said.
MH370 Families welcomed the renewed search in a statement released last month, saying that if OI’s search is unfruitful, Malaysia should be open to similar “no cure no fee” searches. “Our best wishes are with all parties involved in this search. It is our fervent hope that the search yields results. While it may not bring our loved ones back into our midst, we wish for answers that will let matters rest and to make civil aviation safer,” the statement read.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished into thin air on March 8, 2014, with 239 people aboard during a routine flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. Despite the discovery of over 20 pieces of possible debris, the bulk of the aircraft, the passengers and crew remain missing. Authorities checked and rechecked the backgrounds of the flight crew and passengers but turned up empty.