The ship searching for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 mysteriously disappeared with absolutely zero explanation, according to officials.
On 22 January, the Seabed Constructor began its mission to search for the missing plane which disappeared in March 2014.
On Thursday, after only 10 days of searching, the ship turned off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) with no explanation.
Kevin Rupp, a precision machinist who has been publicly tracking Seabed Constructor, said that was highly unlikely.
“I have nothing polite to say about those who are spreading rumours that Seabed Constructor was really on a treasure hunt,” he said.
He said all speculation was simply guesswork, and the tracker may have been turned off to prevent unnecessary distress to the victim’s families. “If the ship detected possible contacts [with MH370] its most likely action would be to move to the spot of the detections and lower an ROV – a tethered remote-controlled small vehicle,” he said.
“To do this, Seabed Constructor would have to sit still in one place for a long period of time and this would be very noticeable to those of us watching through our AIS tracking apps … I believe they may have turned the AIS transmitter to low power mode to prevent us from speculating that they had found something and causing undue distress for the next of kin.”
But now note something, and I hope it bothers the reader as much as it bothers me:
In the single update released by Malaysian officials so far, it was confirmed MH370 had not been found in the first week of the search, between 22 and 30 January.
During that time, Seabed Constructor had searched a “high priority” area that Australian researchers had pinpointed as the plane’s likely resting place. Between 2014 and 2017, Australian authorities had conducted a three-year search across 120,000sq km that failed to find the plane. Afterwards, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) identified the priority area as the next place to look.
Scientist Richard Cole said on Twitter he believed the ship had spent the three days in an area it had previously searched, in the south-east corner of the search area.
And that’s the problem: why search in an area that has already been searched? Why, indeed, are we searching in the Indian Ocean at all, when, as I’ve outlined above, there are varying witness accounts of the flight going in other directions? Why would an American “source” get on national television and offer silly theories about Iran, a long way away from the western Australian coast? Any why, indeed, turn off the ship’s position transponder? I suspect a different explanation than that offered in the article, namely, that the ship may not have been where people think it was, and that it was looking elsewhere, and if so, that may mean the Malaysian government has some intelligence it is not, as yet, sharing.
The problem is, after three and a half years of searing, the bottom line is we still really don’t know where it is, and, if one parses the lines of the following article closely, we don’t really know if it’s in the Indian Ocean at all; it remains only our best guess:
The operation to find MH370 was suspended in January, after 1,046 days, causing anger among the relatives of some victims.
The suspension followed an unsuccessful underwater search 2,800km off the coast of Western Australia, which used an AU$160m deep-sea sonar searchover 120,000sq km (46,000 sq miles).
The search, despite finding no new evidence of MH370’s whereabouts, helped to eliminate a large stretch of ocean as the location. The ATSB report said that meant the understanding of MH370’s location “is better now than it has ever been”.
“The underwater search has eliminated most of the high probability areas yielded by reconstructing the aircraft’s flight path and the debris drift studies conducted in the past 12 months have identified the most likely area with increasing precision,” the report said.
Following the underwater search, a re-analysis of satellite imagery had narrowed the plane’s likely resting place to an area of less than 25,000 square kilometres, the ATSB said.
A second Australian agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, released a separate report on the search on Tuesday. Its report confirmed that early surface area searches, conducted immediately after MH370 went missing between March to April 2014, were effective.
The location of the Boeing 777 has become one of aviation’s greatest mysteries, unable to be solved by a multinational effort involving ships and aircraft from countries including India, China, the US and Australia.
MH370 veered off course and continued to fly for seven hours but sent no automatic transmissions after the first 38 minutes of flight. The plane’s last position was recorded at the northern tip of Sumatra.
The bottom line? Aerial history’s biggest mystery just became bigger, and my bet is, Malaysia knows something, and so far, isn’t talking.