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 Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter June 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Technology

Denmark Adopts Digital Ship Certification

As of June 24, 2016, ships flying the Danish flag are being digitally certified, making Denmark one of the first countries to put an end to the 100-year-old tradition

Prince Charles Places Final Section of UK Aircraft Carrier

The second of the largest warships ever built for the U.K. Royal Navy, the Queen Elizabeth Class carrier HMS Prince of Wales, was given the royal seal of approval when HRH The Prince of Wales,

US Navy Accepts Delivery of Future USS Montgomery

The U.S. Navy has accepted delivery of future USS Montgomery (LCS 8) during a ceremony on June 23 at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala.   Marking the official

News

HCI Capital Renamed Ernst Russ AG

A vote was passed at the ordinary shareholders’ meeting of HCI Capital AG yesterday to change the company’s name to Ernst Russ AG. The Executive Board and Supervisory

ABP orders Two Gottwald cranes

Terex Port Solutions (TPS) has received an order from Associated British Ports (ABP) for two electric Terex Gottwald Model 8 portal harbour cranes in the G HSK 8424 B four-rope grab variant.

Traffic Separation Schemes off Western Australia

On 1 December 2016 two new Traffic Separation Schemes (TSS) will come into effect off the south-west coast of Western Australia. Australia’s proposal to establish

Vessels

US Navy Accepts Delivery of Future USS Montgomery

The U.S. Navy has accepted delivery of future USS Montgomery (LCS 8) during a ceremony on June 23 at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala.   Marking the official

Kiel is First German Port of Call for Mein Schiff 5

The brand-new TUI Cruises newbuilding Mein Schiff 5 has arrived in Kiel – her first German port of call since being handed over in Turku, Finland, a few days ago.

ST Marine Delivers 4th Patrol Vessel to Oman

Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd (ST Marine), the marine arm of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering), has held the Interim Acceptance ceremony

Surveyors

LR Suggests Locations for In-water Surveys

Lloyd’s Register has recently re-appraised its guidance on locations where an In-Water Survey may be carried out.   Traditionally, these locations were known as ‘Approved Locations’,

ABS is Japan's First Foreign RO for Maritime Labor Inspection

ABS has been selected by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) as Japan’s first foreign Recognized Organization (RO) for maritime labor inspection.

UKHO to Release Digital Charts for Expanded Panama Canal

The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office is to release five new Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs) for the expanded Panama Canal.   The new ENCS are produced

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Navigation Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Simulators Sonar Winch
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: 0.1373 sec (7 req/sec)