Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) says that a bathymetric survey of the 60,000km2 search area is well underway, with two vessels, the Australian-contracted Fugro Equator and the Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen, mapping the ocean floor, while the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is coordinating this work.
JACC explains that the bathymetric survey will provide crucial knowledge of the seafloor terrain to begin the actual underwater search. The ATSB is currently assessing tender documentation to engage a primary contractor to manage this complex operation.
The underwater search is likely to commence in early September and take up to 12 months to complete. It will aim to locate the aircraft and any evidence (such as debris and the flight recorders) to assist the Malaysian investigation of the disappearance of MH370.