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

Technology

Petrobras Develops Technology to Cut GHG

Petrobras develops a new technology that reduces the emission of gases that cause greenhouse A new technology to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG)

Subsea Crane Takes a Long Journey

Last September the test bed in Rostock was the stage of a single lift of the RL-K 7500 subsea crane. The same crane was then loaded and shipped to the South Korean customer.

Glasgow-Singapore Green Ship Deal On

A new research collaboration between A*STAR’s IHPC, Sembcorp Marine Ltd, University of Glasgow and UGS aims to  make a ship’s voyage more smooth sailing by improving

Casualties

Tanzania's Energy Minister Resigns

Tanzania's Energy and Minerals Minister Sospeter Muhongo resigned on Saturday amid a graft scandal that has rocked the gas-rich country and led Western donors to delay aid,

Collision With lock Gate in Kiel Canal

Delays can be expected in the Kiel Canal following a collision this yesterday, 23 January, with the small north lock gate at Brunsbuettel. Only the big north

Oil Platform Ablaze in the Gulf of Mexico

Fire broke out on an unmanned oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico approximately five miles south of Port Fourchon, La., the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) reported.

News

Tanzania's Energy Minister Resigns

Tanzania's Energy and Minerals Minister Sospeter Muhongo resigned on Saturday amid a graft scandal that has rocked the gas-rich country and led Western donors to delay aid,

Oil Majors to Preserve Dividends Despite Oil Collapse

Europe's oil majors will strike a sober note in their fourth-quarter results and investors will focus on companies' plans to maintain cherished dividends and

China's COSCO Group Returns to Profit

China Ocean Shipping Group Co (COSCO) returned to profit in 2014 after three years of losses, state media said on Saturday, citing an interview with the group's chairman.

Vessels

Collision With lock Gate in Kiel Canal

Delays can be expected in the Kiel Canal following a collision this yesterday, 23 January, with the small north lock gate at Brunsbuettel. Only the big north

MSC Sinfonia Upgradation at Fincantieri Shipyard

Extension operations on MSC Sinfonia, the second out of four MSC cruise ships to undergo the Renaissance Programme of enhancements, have begunin the past days at Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo.

Irving Celebrates Canadian AOPS Build Contract

Government of Canada & Irving Shipbuilding mark signing of $2.3 billion AOPS build contract; 3,600 Jobs across Canada generated from Irving’s NSPS commitments to

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Pipelines Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair 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: 0.3050 sec (3 req/sec)