Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has announced that a Chinese sonar-equipped vessel will support underwater search efforts for the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet.
The Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on-board disappeared in March 2014. It is thought to have crashed in the Indian Ocean following its disappearance from the radar.
Reuters reported that China had offered the Dong Hai Jiu 101 vessel to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in November which will be commissioned into the search operations in the southern Indian Ocean, where the plane is believed to have crashed in March 2014.
The operation was launched by the Australian Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC) to search for the wreckage of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Truss was quoted by The International Business Times as saying that the vessel "has recently been refitted and will be equipped with the ProSAS-60, a 6,000m depth-rated synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) towed system to be used in search operations.
"The ProSAS-60 will be operated by Phoenix International Holdings and Hydrospheric Solutions; both companies have experience in the search for MH370 having previously operated on the search vessel GO Phoenix."
The initial Australian-led underwater search along a 60,000km² patch of sea floor off the coast of Perth is said to have costed A$120m.
Recently, the Australian search operation had hit an obstacle with its underwater sonar vehicle towfish, attached to the ship Fugro Discovery, which ran aground in the southern expanse of the Indian Ocean after hitting a submerged mud volcano.