Pinger deployed for first search

Published on LEUT Kelli Lunt (author), LSIS Bradley Darvill (photographer)

Topic(s): Operations

The towed pinger locator is deployed from the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield. (photo: LSIS Bradley Darvill)
The towed pinger locator is deployed from the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield.

Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) Ocean Shield deployed its towed pinger locator (TPL) for the first time on the morning of 4 April, as part of its ongoing search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Almost 600 nautical miles west of Exmouth, the TPL was towed around 3500 metres below the surface along the possible flight path of MH370, in water 4500 metres deep.

Phoenix International personnel Mike Unzicker and Chris Minor deploy the towed pinger locator off the deck of Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield in the first search for the missing flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.

Phoenix International personnel Mike Unzicker and Chris Minor deploy the towed pinger locator off the deck of Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield in the first search for the missing flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.

Royal Australian Navy Mission Commander embarked in ADV Ocean Shield, Commander James Lybrand said the personnel from the United States Navy, Phoenix International, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Royal Australian Navy were working closely to narrow the search area.

“Our search area is in the best-predicted flight path and crash location of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370,” Commander Lybrand said.

“We need to ascertain if the flight data recorder ‘pinger’ is active - this is needed to plan the next phase of the search.”

A number of search lines will be conducted over the area with a towing speed of around two knots. The TPL will be searching for any emissions from the flight data recorder or cockpit data recorder in the last predicted days of battery life.

Pending a positive and repetitive reading of sound, an autonomous underwater vehicle will be deployed to investigate.

“All underwater search equipment has been tested and this team have the specialist expertise required for acoustic search,” he said.

ADV Ocean Shield is embarked with an additional 34 personnel in support Operation SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN to search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Personnel from Phoenix International and Blue Fin with the towed pinger locator (TPL-25) on the deck of Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield. L-R: Mike Unzicker, Andrew Vachon (Bluefin), Charlie Kapica, Chris Minor and Chris 'Sharkie' Moore (Phoenix Team Lead).

Personnel from Phoenix International and Blue Fin with the towed pinger locator (TPL-25) on the deck of Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield. L-R: Mike Unzicker, Andrew Vachon (Bluefin), Charlie Kapica, Chris Minor and Chris 'Sharkie' Moore (Phoenix Team Lead).

Imagery is available on the Australian Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20140883.