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Joint Agency Coordination Centre

Pinger locator equipment commences operation

Media Release
4 April 2014

The Royal Australian Navy and Royal Navy have today commenced a sub-surface search for emissions from the black-box pinger from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Using the Towed Pinger Locator (TPL) from the United States Navy on Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield and a similar capability on HMS Echo, the two ships will search a single 240 kilometre track, converging on each other.

This will be the first time that a sub-surface search will have been conducted in the search, in an attempt to detect the signal from the black-box of MH370.

The Commander of Joint Task Force 658, Commodore Peter Leavy, said the two ships and their towed-pinger equipment would be operating at significantly reduced speed to search at depths of three thousand metres or more.

“There has not been any change in the search,” Commodore Leavy said.

“No hard evidence has been found to date so we have made the decision to search a sub-surface area on which the analysis has predicted MH370 is likely to have flown.

“While the preference for search operations is to use physical evidence and then drift modelling to determine a smaller sub-surface search area, the search track is considered to be the best estimate possible for an area likely to contain the crashed aircraft.

“The equipment on Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) Ocean Shield and HMS Echo can only operate effectively at reduced speed, around three knots.

“The search using sub-surface equipment needs to be methodical and carefully executed in order to effectively detect the faint signal of the pinger.”

Functionality tests were carried out on the TPL, Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and transducer pole to prove its effectiveness during transit to the search area. All the acoustic sensors, GPS positioning, tracking and frequency systems and positioning of the equipment completed a functionality test.