Tue, 23 Oct 2018
Kuala Lumpur

MH370 search ship disappears from tracking screens

By Sheetal Sukhija, Kuala Lumpur News
07 Feb 2018, 06:36 GMT+10

JAKARTA, Indonesia - In a mysterious occurrence, that has baffled even authorities, the search ship looking for the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has disappeared for three days.

According to reports, the Seabed Constructor, which belonged to the U.S.-based company Ocean Infinity, had been looking for the missing plane but mysteriously turned off its monitoring system.

The U.S.-based company Ocean Infinity was hired by the Malaysian government to search for the missing plane, which disappeared in March 2014.

Report noted that the ship disappeared from tracking screens for three days after it turned off its own satellite monitoring system with no explanation.

Seabed Constructor began the search on January 22, but only ten days after it launched the search, it turned off its Automatic Identification System (AIS).
Then, three days later, it reappeared outside the search area and on its way to a scheduled refuelling stop at the Australian port of Fremantle. 

The outage has not been explained by either the Malaysian government or Ocean Infinity, or where the ship travelled to in those three days.

As speculation over the ship’s movements mounted earlier this week, family members of those on board the missing flight called on the Malaysian government and Ocean Infinity to explain the blackout.

However, during the three-day data blackout conspiracy theories spread online.

One such theory said that Seabed Constructor had taken a detour to recover sunken treasure from the nearby wreck of the SV Inca, a Peruvian ship that sunk in 1911 while en route to Sydney.

An expert, Kevin Rupp, who is a precision machinist and has been publicly tracking Seabed Constructor, however debunked the theory saying that was highly unlikely. 
Rupp said, “I have nothing polite to say about those who are spreading rumours that Seabed Constructor was really on a treasure hunt.”

He said all speculation was simply guesswork, and the tracker may have been turned off to prevent unnecessary distress to the victim’s families.

He added, “If the ship detected possible contacts [with MH370] its most likely action would be to move to the spot of the detections and lower an ROV – a tethered remote-controlled small vehicle. To do this, Seabed Constructor would have to sit still in one place for a long period of time and this would be very noticeable to those of us watching through our AIS tracking apps ... I believe they may have turned the AIS transmitter to low power mode to prevent us from speculating that they had found something and causing undue distress for the next of kin.”

So far, Malaysian officials have released a single update, confirming that MH370 had not been found in the first week of the search.

The update came at a time when Seabed Constructor had been searching a “high priority” area that Australian researchers had pinpointed as the plane’s likely resting place. 

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) had identified the priority area as the next place to look and scientist Richard Cole said in a Tweet that he believed the ship had spent the three days in an area it had previously searched.

Seabed Constructor was expected to return to the search area after refuelling in Fremantle.

The search ship has 90 days to find MH370 on a no-find, no-fee basis.

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