Dutch Survey Vessel Joins Search for MH370

Posted by Eric Haun
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Fugro Equator (IMage courtesy of Fugro)

Dutch engineers this week started a months-long survey to map unchartered deep-sea terrain at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, the next step in the search for the wreck of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, a company official told Reuters.

A survey ship from Dutch engineering company Fugro , carrying 40 crew and technicians, began mapping out an area larger than the Netherlands, some 1000 miles (1,600 km) east of the northwest coast of Australia.

The search for the lost plane is being coordinated by the Australian Transportation Safety Board and is expected to cost 60 million Australian dollars ($56 million) over the first year.

"It's a rough area," Rob Luijnenburg, strategy director at Fugro, which usually conducts surveys for oil and telecommunications companies, said in an interview on Thursday.

"The area has mountains, ridges, valleys, and you can't see a lot down there unless you make it visible with technology," he said. "For the first phase you need a good map. Once you have that you can plan the next phase."

It will take roughly three months for the Fugro Equator survey ship, which is being assisted by a Chinese naval vessel, to map out the typography of the ocean floor.

Once an accurate map has been constructed with the aid of computers on board the ship, searchers can begin more detailed, slower surveys in a bid to find the wreck itself, using unmanned robots and submarines to search the ocean floor.

Flight MH370, carrying 239 crew and passengers, mostly Chinese, disappeared from radar screens on March 8 shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.

UNCHARTERED SEABED

Investigators say what little evidence they have to work with, including the loss of communications, suggests the Boeing 777 was deliberately diverted thousands of kilometres from its scheduled route.

The area being mapped is largely uncharted, Luijnenburg said, since the area's remoteness and depth at 6,000 metres placed it beyond the reach of the oil industry, which is still pushing down to depths approaching 3,000 metres.

With a long maritime history and seafaring expertise, Dutch companies are leaders in the field of complex, large-scale undersea search and salvage operations.

Wrecks on which Dutch companies have worked include the raising of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk, which sank in the depths of the Barents Sea in 2000 with the loss of all on board.

More recently, Dutch firms were contracted to help salvage the Costa Concordia cruise liner, which sank off the coast of Italy in 2012.

Fugro's ship will use an echo sounder for the topographic mapping stage, building up a relatively low-resolution picture of the entire area as quickly as possible, its crew staying at sea for a month at a time.

"It's extremely unlikely that we will be able to pick up something the size of an aircraft and make it out to be that at this stage," Luijnenburg said.

Built in 2012, the vessel is one of four Fugro commissioned that is custom-built for undersea surveying, designed to be quiet and not interfere with the sensitive sonar mapping systems, which measure echoes bounced off the sea floor.

What little is known of the topography of the area comes from satellite imaging and from surveys made in the past by ships that happened to be crossing the area with sonar turned on, he said. Data gathered earlier is inaccurate, because most of it was collected without the help of satellite positioning.

($1 = 1.0710 Australian Dollars)

(By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Sonya Hepinstall)

Maritime Reporter May 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Technology

Construction Starts on Crowley’s 2nd LNG ConRo Ship

Construction begins on Crowley’s second Commitment Class, LNG-powered ConRo ship for use in the Puerto Rico trade   Shipbuilder VT Halter Marine, Inc. has officially

UKHO ‘Living with ECDIS’ Seminars at Nor-Shipping

Seminar to include information on updated IHO ENC Standards   The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has announced the details of its free-to-attend ECDIS Seminars at Nor-Shipping,

New Launches, Demonstrations Set for Seawork

Europe’s commercial marine and workboat exhibition held in a working port, Seawork International, has released its plans for demonstrations, launches and conferences.

Casualties

Sulfur-Laden Bulk Carrier Grounds off Port Arthur, TX

The U.S. Coast Guard is working with state and local partners in response to a bulk carrier loaded with sulfur that ran aground in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday, while

Hundreds Rally in Myanmar over "boat people" Crisis

Hundreds of protesters marched through the streets of Myanmar's largest city of Yangon on Wednesday to denounce foreign criticism of the country's treatment of stateless Rohingya Muslims.

Second Sea Lion Rescued from California Oil Spill Dies at SeaWorld

A second sea lion rescued from along California's oil-fouled coastline near Santa Barbara has died at SeaWorld San Diego, where veterinarians are still caring for

News

CMA-CGM to Call Port of Baltimore

International container shipping company CMA-CGM of France announced that it will begin service within the next couple of weeks to the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore.

Somaliland to Pick Berbera Port Partner by End of Year

Somaliland expects to choose a partner to develop and manage its Berbera port by the end of the year, with construction expected to start early next year, the breakaway

Hapag-Lloyd Expands Feeder Network in Scandinavia

Baltic Express Service (BAX) to include Oslo / Two weekly departures from Gothenburg and Helsingborg in SDX and GTE / Connection via Hamburg and Bremerhaven to

Vessels

Bahri Orders VLCC Newbuilds

Bahri ordered five newbuild very large crude carriers from Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries   The National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri) today signed

Construction Starts on Crowley’s 2nd LNG ConRo Ship

Construction begins on Crowley’s second Commitment Class, LNG-powered ConRo ship for use in the Puerto Rico trade   Shipbuilder VT Halter Marine, Inc. has officially

Star Clippers to Build Massive Square Rigger

Tall ship sailing specialist Star Clippers has announced that it has started building a fourth ship to add to its fleet of graceful square-riggers; its first new-build

Surveyors

Robotics Ocean Monitoring Alliance Formed in Africa

Blue Ocean Monitoring enters into strategic alliance with Sea Technology Services   Blue Ocean Monitoring (BOM) announced that it has entered a strategic business

Shanghai Shipyard Won Bid for Two Survey Vessels

Shanghai Shipyard has won bids to build two multipurpose survey vessels for two geological survey institutes. The shipyard is an affiliate of China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC).

Mobil Says Oil Discovery off Guyana is 'Significant'

Unlike almost all its neighbors, Guyana isn’t an oil producer yet. But the energy giant Exxon Mobil recently announced it had discovered “significant” oil off the coast.

Seismic Vessel Tech

Shanghai Shipyard Won Bid for Two Survey Vessels

Shanghai Shipyard has won bids to build two multipurpose survey vessels for two geological survey institutes. The shipyard is an affiliate of China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC).

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2240 sec (4 req/sec)