New Pitfall in Hunt for Jet: Sea Is Too Deep

Robot sub forced to return to surface early on first day of undersea search
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2014 4:47 AM CDT
Updated Apr 15, 2014 6:33 AM CDT
Depth Thwarts Undersea Hunt for Jet
The Bluefin-21 was forced to return to the surface after exceeding its 2.8-mile limit.   (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)

Yet another setback in the search for Flight 370: The first undersea mission to search for the Malaysia Airlines jet, scheduled to last 16 hours, was cut short after the Bluefin-21 underwater drone exceeded its 2.8-mile operating limit, authorities say. The drone collected around six hours of footage yesterday, which did not provide any clues, Reuters reports. Its sonar search is concentrating on a zone of around 230 square miles of Indian Ocean seabed, and authorities say it could take months to scan the entire area.

  • The Australian official in charge of the search says the Bluefin-21 has been redeployed and other vehicles capable of going deeper could be deployed depending on what the drone spots, reports the BBC.
  • That might have to be the case: The US Navy captain handling Bluefin-21 says that if the drone goes past its depth limits one more time, it will effectively be rendered useless. "It could probably go down further than that once, but it wouldn’t be functional after that," he told the Guardian Australia, noting that while its "speed of deployment" gave the Bluefin-21 an edge, "it’s certainly not the tool I would use to do a very, very broad area sonar scan."
  • The New York Times, meanwhile, looks at China's role in the search and finds that the country's eagerness to show off its technological abilities may only have delayed finding the aircraft. Officials involved with the search say that while China is certainly committed to the search, false leads from its ships and satellites ended up wasting valuable days.
(Read more Flight 370 stories.)

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