US Navy Poseidon P8 picked up something of considerable size in the target area on its radars according to American reports.
US ABC reporter on the P8 says the radar also found many objects in the vicinity
Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called the Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak to say search aircraft are on their way to inspect the site of satellite images which appear to show wreckage that may be from MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean.
1430 eastern daylight time
PM Abbott told Question Time in Federal Parliament that new satellite images show two possible objects in the ocean and an Australian Orion aircraft is en route to the area.
“New and credible information has come to light in relation to the search in the south Indian Ocean,” he said.
“The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search.”
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, a 777-200ER with 239 people on board, disappeared from air traffic control systems as a transponder identified flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing 42 minutes after departing at 12.40 am on 8 March.
The first aircraft to reach the scene will be an RAAF Orion which was already working on or preparing for a sweep of today’s target zone when it was diverted to the coordinates of the satellite image. The PM said that aircraft was due there at about this time.
It would be followed up by a further three RAAF Orions.
A live briefing on Australian networks will be held at 1530 by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in Canberra.
This is the third day of the Australian search of the most southern extensions of the search area in the south Indian Ocean. On the first day in a media briefing AMSA revealed that it had relied on satellite data analysed by the NTSB in the US to select areas to be swept by a fleet of up to four RAAF P3 Orions as well as a New Zealand Orion, a US Orion, and a US Poseidon P8.
US reports quote USN source as saying one of its P8 Poseidons may also be close to the point of interest.
Malaysia acting transport minister and minister of defence Hishammuddin Hussein says he believes this is “an important new lead.”
AMSA briefing main points
This is very credible information.
This morning AMSA was shown analysis of blurry images taken by a satellite the Air Commodore John McGarry could not identify which showed two main objects, the largest 24 metres across and smaller objects near the largest objects.
John Young, the MD of AMSA’s search and rescue division, said the large objects appeared to be awash.
The resolution of the images didn’t allow resolution of objects as small as an aircraft window.
Commercial and ‘other’ satellites offering higher resolutions are being reassigned to look for more detail, if the objects can be found (that is, haven’t sunk, or are hidden by conditions).
There is no time estimate on these commmissioned images.
However the images studied this morning will be released to the media later.
The Day 3 map now posted at top of page isn’t exactly where the images were located, which were a further 150 kilometres to the SW.
The first RAAF Orion to reach the coordinates for the images has only reported poor visibility. It arrived at 1.50 pm (Canberra) and had a loiter time of two hours, for a total flight time of under 10 hours. The USN P8 Poseidon aircraft was due there about 3 pm. The next two Orions due at the coordinates will arrive at about 6 pm and 8 pm Canberra time. The local sunset at the site would be close to 10 pm Canberra time and completely dark an hour later.
A RAAF C-130 Hercules is also flying to the last known location of the suspect debris to drop data buoys which will transmit regular updates of exact drift and wind conditions in the area .
AMSA stressed that it had a long history of being disappointed by promising satellite imagery in the course of searches, but as Air Comodore McGarry said the analysis of the images was of sufficient strength to justify putting all of the southern area search resources into this comparatively small area.
There are now at least five merchant ships in or near the area. The nearest unidentified vessel will arrive at 6 pm tonight. HMAS Success, which has purpose built recovery equipment, is on its way to the area but will not arrive ‘for days.’
US reports that the USN P8 Poseidon found something of significant size in the water using its radar add to the evidence supporting this being MH370.
Even more important is the accurate tagging of the potential debris because of the radar contact. This should make it much easier for subsequent sweeps to zero in on very precise estimates as to where the objects are, even in poor visibility.
An US ABC reporter on the P8 has also tweeted that the radar found many smaller objects in the vicinity of the large object. It should be kept in mind that the satellite image of two large objects would not have had the resolution to see all of the smaller objects that might have been in the vicinity of the larger objects.
Correction. The P8 information was incorrect.
A new post carries the satellite images that caused today’s tight focus on an area 185 kms from the original search zone.