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Jan 29, 2016

China sends hi-tech ship to MH370 search zone

China is sending a ship with ultra deep-sea sonar scanning equipment to the MH370 search zone in the south Indian Ocean. The announcement makes sense of references to

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The ship which should bring the sharpest and deepest eyes to the search
The ship which should bring the sharpest and deepest eyes to the search

China is sending a ship with ultra deep-sea sonar scanning equipment to the MH370 search zone in the south Indian Ocean.

The announcement makes sense of references to the use of sharper, deeper synthetic aperture sonar scanning technology by an intelligence circle outside Australia back in August 2015.

The ship is the Dong Hai Jiu 101, launched in 2012, and is described by a China watcher as a class of vessel designed to work in concert with the PRC’s largest, fastest and most powerful ocean rescue tug the Nan Hai Jiu 101 and similar.

An account of these vessels can read here, although it isn’t particularly well written, or translated.

The Dong Hai Jiu 101 was offered to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull by China’s Premier Li Keqiang in November 2015, and since then been refitted and equipped with the ProSAS-60 – a 6,000 metre depth-rated synthetic aperture sonar towed system intended for very deep sea search operations after maritime mishaps.

In a statement deputy PM and Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss said, “The ProSAS-60 will be operated by Phoenix International Holdings and Hydrospheric Solutions; both companies have experience in the search for MH 370 having previously operated on the search vessel GO Phoenix.

“The ship is currently in Singapore for mobilisation and is expected to depart for Australia on Sunday (31 January). It will commence operations in the search area towards the end of February.

“The presence of Dong Hai Jiu 101 will supplement the work of Fugro Discovery, Fugro Equator and Havila Harmony, and returns to four the number of vessels actively searching for MH 370 in the 120,000 square kilometre search area.”

The value of China’s contribution to the search by way of the ship is given as $20 million. China was also a major supporter of the early surface air search west and south west of Western Australia, and briefly sent or diverted other China flagged shipping into areas where surface debris was considered a possibility.

Parts of the sea bed along the so-called 7th arc west and SW of Western Australia lies is as deep as 6000 metres. It remains unclear, because of variations in the official narrative, as to whether any of the other underwater equipment used in the Australia managed  search was totally effective at such depths.

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