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

Wärtsilä, Diesel United Renew Pact

Wärtsilä and Diesel United Ltd in Japan have signed a ten-year renewal of their co-operation agreement for the sale, manufacturing and servicing of Wärtsilä low-speed marine engines.

MARAD Tests Alternative Power for Ships

The Maritime Administration (MARAD) is testing state-of-the-art, environmentally efficient technology onboard the Training Ship (TS) Kennedy.   The National Defense

Ship Emissions: Chevron Lube Gains Key Approval

A new Chevron Marine Lubricants 100 BN cylinder oil, which is designed to offer ship owners the ability to achieve the latest emissions legislation, has received full sign off from a key engine maker.

Casualties

USCG Suspends Search for the 2 Migrants

The Coast Guard suspended its search Wednesday at 3 p.m. for two missing Cuban migrants in the vicinity of Caesar Creek, Florida, to Haulover Inlet, Florida.

Miko Marine Launches US Subsidiary

Miko Marine AS has opened a subsidiary in Morgan City, La. from where it will be able to supply ship operators and salvage companies throughout the United States with its range of products,

USCG Rescues Injured Woman from NC Sailboat

The Coast Guard medevaced an injured woman from a grounded sailboat Sunday just east of Seagate. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina in Wilmington

News

U.S. Drillers Cut Rigs to Lowest since August

Energy companies have reduced the number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States to the lowest since August, shifting more rigs in favor of natural gas as crude prices dive,

Equinox Class Scrubber Systems Receive Certification

Algoma Central Corporation (“Algoma”), the largest Canadian shipowner and operator of domestic Great Lakes vessels announces that it has received all requisite

Wärtsilä, Diesel United Renew Pact

Wärtsilä and Diesel United Ltd in Japan have signed a ten-year renewal of their co-operation agreement for the sale, manufacturing and servicing of Wärtsilä low-speed marine engines.

Vessels

Wärtsilä, Diesel United Renew Pact

Wärtsilä and Diesel United Ltd in Japan have signed a ten-year renewal of their co-operation agreement for the sale, manufacturing and servicing of Wärtsilä low-speed marine engines.

MARAD Tests Alternative Power for Ships

The Maritime Administration (MARAD) is testing state-of-the-art, environmentally efficient technology onboard the Training Ship (TS) Kennedy.   The National Defense

St. Lawrence Seaway Workers Extend Strike Deadline

The union that represents workers on the St. Lawrence Seaway, the waterway that links the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean, has extended a strike deadline to Monday at 5 p.

Surveyors

Braemar Hosts Insurance Experts

Braemar (incorporating The Salvage Association) welcomed an invited group of marine insurance professionals onto its specialist port and shipyard familiarization

DEA’s New 82-foot Survey Vessel Commissioned

David Evans and Associates, Inc.’s Marine Services Division commissioned its new 82-foot hydrographic survey and scientific vessel Blake in a ceremony held in the vessel’s homeport of Gulfport,

EnQuest Selects Technip for Mega Subsea Contract

Technip was awarded by EnQuest earlier this year a large(1) engineering, procurement, installation and construction (EPCI) contract for the Kraken development located in the North Sea,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Pipelines Port Authority Ship Repair Ship Simulators Winch
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: 0.2229 sec (4 req/sec)