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 September 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Technology

Maritime Broadband Opens Office in Greece

Maritime Broadband has expanded its worldwide footprint by opening an office, Maritime Broadband Hellas, in Athens, Greece. The new office addresses the growing

Statoil: New Oil in the Grane Area

Statoil has together with PL169 partners proved new oil resources in the D-structure in the vicinity of the Grane field in the North Sea.   Well 25/8-18 S, drilled by the rig Transocean Leader,

New Standard for LNG Cargo Containment Systems

Wilhelmsen Technical Solutions (WTS) said it has successfully completing the gas trial for the first LNG carrier built to a Boil Off Rate (BOR) of 0.08% per day.

Casualties

USCG Reopens Port Allen Post Hurricane Ana

The Coast Guard Captain of the Port reopened Port Allen in Kauai Monday morning after surveying crews deemed it  safe for transit. The maritime public is advised

Key to Somalia's Recovery

Piracy, terrorism and criminal activities originating in Somalia can only be addressed by creating a climate of security, engagement and empowerment that will encourage home grown businesses,

CEVA Airlifts Supplies to W. Africa for Ebola Response

CEVA Logistics - one of the world's leading supply chain management companies – airlifted  more than 70 tonnes  of urgent supplies to Monrovia, Liberia on October

News

Weak Oil Threatens US Export of LNG

Plunging global oil prices may turn hopes for cheap liquefied natural gas supplies from the United States into a costly disappointment for Asian buyers who have

Long Beach Cargo Continues to Climb

Cargo container traffic rose 7.3 percent in September at the Port of Long Beach compared to the same month last year, making for the Southern California seaport’s busiest September since 2007,

WWII Wrecks Found off North Carolina

German U-boat 576 and freighter Bluefields found within 240 yards A team of researchers led by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries have discovered

Vessels

Catamaran Passenger Ferries Delivered in Angola

Incat Crowther announced the delivery a pair of 30m catamaran passenger ferries, Macôco and Panguila, to Instituto Marítimo e Portuário de Angola. The vessels, built by Astilleros Armon in Spain,

TRIYARDS Buys into Aluminium Shipbuilding Expertise

TRIYARDS Holdings Limited, an offshore vessel fabrication and engineering solutions provider to the oil and gas (O&G) industry, has added new capabilities, products

Singapore’s MPA Discuss LNG Bunkering

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Antwerp Port Authority, Port of Rotterdam and Port of Zeebrugge participated in a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

Surveyors

WWII Wrecks Found off North Carolina

German U-boat 576 and freighter Bluefields found within 240 yards A team of researchers led by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries have discovered

SYM Bolsters Shipowners Service Portfolio

SYM announced it has reorganized its technical services in three lines: Technical Services, Wet Docking Services and Electrical and Electronic Maintenance. Technical Services,

ClassNK Gets Authorization from Canadian Flag

Leading classification society ClassNK has received authorization from Transport Canada to carry out statutory surveys on Canadian-flagged vessels on behalf of the Government of Canada.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Navigation Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Electronics Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | 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: 0.3931 sec (3 req/sec)