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Mar 18, 2016

Are claimed Mozambique MH370 fragments too clean to be true?

Some extremely serious doubts about the origins of two pieces of suspected debris from MH370 have been raised by US science writer Jeff Wise. The fragments in question


The Dropbox album of Blaine Gibson's Mozambique find
The Dropbox album of Blaine Gibson’s find on a Mozambique sandbar

Some extremely serious doubts about the origins of two pieces of suspected debris from MH370 have been raised by US science writer Jeff Wise.

The fragments in question, found on the Indian ocean shores of Mozambique in December and February, appeared to be genuine Boeing 777 parts, but always stood out as being remarkably clear of marine fouling.

Jeff Wise has published a detailed review of the forensic implications of prolonged water immersion on such debris and concluded that it is possible that “one or both of the Mozambique objects were never in the ocean at all.”

His amply illustrated critique compares these objects to the flaperon found on the French Indian Ocean island of La Réunion last July which was after long study, declared by the public prosecutor’s office in Paris to have come from MH370.

The Malaysia Airlines jet was en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on 8 March 2014 with 239 people on board when it vanished as a transponder identified object on air traffic control screens.

The reluctance of authorities, in Malaysia, to release some of the radar data they claim to hold on the subsequent movements of MH370 has caused widespread concerns of a cover up concerning the events that occurred on that night.

That data has been critical to the management of an ocean floor search for the sunk remains of the flight and its occupants in a priority zone in the southern Indian Ocean by the Australia’s air accident investigator, the ATSB.

These frustrations have been compounded by the silence of the French prosecutor’s office as to what if any additional clues as to the nature of the crash of MH370 after its fuel was exhausted have been revealed by the studies it had made on the flaperon.

In his conclusion Jeff Wise says:

The absence of biofouling on a piece of suspected aircraft debris recovered in Mozambique in December, 2015 suggests that it entered the water no earlier than October of that year. The absence of biofouling on a piece of suspected aircraft debris recovered in Mozambique in February, 2016 suggests that it entered the water no earlier than January, 2016. It is entirely possible that one or both of the Mozambique objects were never in the ocean at all.

All of these results counterindicate a scenario in which these pieces of debris were generated by a crash on March 8, 2014 near the area currently being searched by the ATSB. It is incumbent on all the relevant authorities to make public the details of a close examination of the parts, in order to determine how these objects could have arrived in the western Indian Ocean.

In blunt terms Mr Wise is suggesting that the Mozambique fragments may just possibly be a deception.

His study is far more compelling than an earlier effort that discussed the possibility MH370 had been flown to part of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and buried in a field.


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20 thoughts on “Are claimed Mozambique MH370 fragments too clean to be true?

  1. Peter Darco

    The term “salting the mine” comes to mind.

  2. Arthur Blackwell

    The construction of the found Panels is a composite plastic and carbon fiber construction. Those Panels are not confirmed to be from any aircraft and are similar to other composite panels that are known not be from any aircraft, they appear not to support any great amount of Barnacle life on the plastic surface.

    How long were the Panels laying in that vicinity? Barnacles need to be immersed in Salt Water regularly to stay alive and a constant washing by the tides would clear any Marine Life that found it’s way onto the panel.

  3. Dan Dair

    Arthur Blackwell,
    Wouldn’t it be the case though, that barnacles or similar crustacea would most likely leave behind the marks of where they had been attached.
    Also, algae, seaweed or other similar marine-‘vegetation’ would presumably attach itself to something floating in the sea for any length of time & again even if dead, would presumably show traces of attachment & possibly some element of the dead ‘vegetation’ might remain.?

  4. Dan Dair

    I can conceive of a very devious & circuitous methodology whereby Jeff Wise may have planted these parts for his own self-publicity,
    but then noticing that sites like this & other media outlets are pointing-out the lack of marine-growth,
    he quickly ‘fesses-up’ his own doubts about these perceived issues, thus throwing any suspicions away from him.?

    The thing is,
    IMO it is far more likely that the Malaysian authorities would do something as strange as this.?
    The Malaysians are almost certainly hiding something (or many things) relating to the loss of MH370.
    On the basis of the lengths they’ve gone to so far to try to throw everyone off the scent, a stunt like this wouldn’t be beyond them & the fact that it appears to have been done so badly would sit well with how rubbish their ‘media-management’ of information relating to the lost aircraft has been.?

  5. Simon Gunson

    It is Jeff Wise who can only be described politely as the deception. More of a science fiction writer than a credible commentator. He is fighting a rear guard action to discredit debris because he looks such a fool for blaming Putin and alleging MH370 is buried under the end of Yubileyniy Runway in Kazakhstan.

    People who take Jeff seriously are in jeopardy of discrediting themselves, you included Ben.

    Barnacle larvae cannot attach to a surface unless there is a bacterial film which they can feed from.

    For this film to develop the surface must be either constantly submerged for several weeks, or else the host surface must be made of wood or some other object that can absorb the bacteria required for bacterial growth.

    I know in the world of science fiction anything is possible, but Jeff, the rest of us struggle on in the real world. Now please, do try and get a real job.

  6. Ben Sandilands


    I think your comment is unworthy. You can have it left up, which reflects on you rather than Mr Wise, or you can ask for it to be removed.

    The post Jeff Wise made was scholarly and sourced to named authorities, none of whom could conceivably have an interest in any particular outcome. He could also be wrong. Kazakhstan is engraved in the unforgiving and undeletable archives of the WWW forever, until the asteroid comes (or whatever). But this is something different, and it leads to the bigger issues of disclosure of vital information about radar records and deeper examination of the flaperon that despite a great deal of questioning by yourself, and myself, and a lot of people who otherwise can’t agree on much, remain unanswered.

  7. Simon Gunson


    Much as I accuse the Malaysians of falsifying radar claims I really don’t think they are sophisticated enough to plant evidence without being noticed.

    Even the flaperon, has if anything, disclosed abysmal record keeping by MAS Wings maintenance in their failure to keep good records, rather than sophistication as liars.

    The other thing that must be said about the prospect of planting evidence is that spare parts for the Boeing 777 model are in such short supply that perfectly airworthy -200 models are being parted out to satisfy demand to keep -300 models flying. It just isn’t possible to procure used parts without an obvious trail of evidence.

  8. Simon Gunson

    I will leave it up Ben. I call a spade a spade.

    The person I suggest most guilty of deception in this case after Malaysian authorities of course appears to be Jeff Wise. Why must every explanation he comes up with be worthy of a James Bond thriller?

    Does he take us all for fools?

    This man owes many MH370 relatives, several of whom have become my friends, an apology for silly misleading speculations about hijackings ordered by President Putin.

    Meanwhile a group called #VeritasMH370 is preparing to launch a private seabed search further south related to debris sighted from 16-25 March 2014 which may someday oblige Jeff Wise to make a huge apology, but somehow I doubt one will ever arrive.

  9. Brock McEwen

    Simon: like you, I find Jeff’s pet culprit implausible – and I understand your point about potential motive for discrediting debris.

    But Jeff’s article quotes at least seven experts who together put forward a compelling argument that something is amiss, here. Your point about bacterial films may be valid, but by itself, it doesn’t even begin to rebut this expert testimony in aggregate.

    A bright, point-by-point dissection of the scientific assessments offered by each expert will persuade me far more than will any heated attack on the journalist who compiled them.

  10. Brock McEwen

    While I have the microphone: the ATSB responded to my query re: four of Fugro Discovery’s tracks which were repeated in Feb/March (about which I posted to Ben’s “Mozambique” blog a couple of weeks ago):

    “Yes, there was an issue with the sidescan sonar on Fugro Discovery’s late December towfish runs – the starboard channel sidescan sonar was found to be degraded in its outer regions. The degraded section encroached beyond the overlap section of the adjacent line. The lines were subsequently rerun with a suitable offset by Fugro Discovery during its current swing to ensure adequate SSS coverage.”

    I have a follow-up e-mail in, to try to determine exactly how many days of this sortie were “degraded”. If it is a large number, then, over a four-month span, Disco had five wasted sorties in a row – each for a different reason.

  11. Fred

    The following is a link to an alternative theory by Paul Smithson that puts the aircraft’s final resting place further south than the current search area. Smithson’s report is well written and he presents a cogent argument, without the venom and bile that has become a feature of statements made by a certain other commentator.


  12. JH 1969

    Yes on face value the debris found in Mozambique does seem “too clean to be true”, however it’s jumping the gun a bit to make any real interpretations based only on photographic evidence.

    However some points to make:

    1. When you look at the photographs of the flaperon – it is not entirely covered in marine life, particularly the smooth surfaces.

    2. There appears to be a rocky coastline at Reunion island, whilst the photographs of Blaine’s discovery suggest a vast sandy beach coastline. It does take much to imagine the debris at Mozambique being “sandblasted” clean after weeks or months washing around in the surf before they were discovered.

  13. Frequent Traveller

    In pursuit of my earlier inputs on the matter of “why no barnacles ?” to which I ventured an explanation that maybe the (integer) MH370 wreck laying somewhere at the sea-bottom was intentionally blasted to pieces RECENTLY … it seems to me that bacteriae film growth at minus 2,000 meters or deeper is nil or very slow indeed. If a Marine Biologist reads this here comment maybe he could come forward with insight to (in)validate my assumption ?

  14. Grizzly

    Jeff Wise’s comments are a classic example of a “desktop appraisal”, ie he’s looked at photographs and done some research and come to certain conclusions without examining, or conducting any scientific tests on, the actual objects recovered. For that reason alone, I think his speculations would be of little value even if, which I doubt, he were an expert on the growth of marine life on objects floating in the ocean.

  15. Nicky Mark

    The flaperon indeed has barnacles at the sides, but none on its smooth surfaces, probably due to sun’s heat exposure n the paint material. The two much smaller/lighter debris, unlike the flapron, swayed a lot n got tossed around like in a washing machine, and surfaces too hot for marine life to cling on. What about the water bottles and suitcase found there, any updates?

  16. Nicky Mark

    Forgot to add, there seems to be some cockles or something, and dark growth underneath the ‘skin’ of the ‘no step’ debris, so this is worth an inspection, right?

  17. Tango

    Simon also has his own cult, he makes claims pulled out of pure vacuum on how thing work on an aircraft in which he was not on, is not qualified to discuss if he was, has not evidence of ad nausea.

    What you need to know about Simon he has an agenda, he is not an independent thinker in any way shaper or form, he is a defense attorney come up with all sorts of implausible statements out of thin air.

    Pot calling the kettle black in US terms.

    Have any of you lived on a beach? I did, for many years.

    Ever see a glass ball (or float) ? Pure slick glass and they both age and acquire marine growth (not necessarily barnacles)

    Nothing that is in the ocean is not deteriorated by the expose in the sea of 2 years.

    so we have Wise sneaking into something like 4 countries planting parts? A bit hard to pull off don’t you think?

    So, there are some things that I will categorically state.

    1. No Boeing 777 structural engineer has said those fragments are part of a 777 of any portion. A lot of so called experts have. I for one do not know what a Boeing 777 tail looks like, what we see is not a true composite, its a laminate.

    2. So, we have not a clue if those are 777 parts or just aircraft parts. Aircraft are dissembled all the time and 777s have been on that list.

    3. In a short time we will have experts in those parts tell us.

    Ben: I would change the statement on the Malaysian authorities on the Radar records to be released from reluctant to refuse. NTSB as you noted did review them but never released.

    I find it amazing ironic you have radar and fighters and when you ID a unknown target in your airspace, you don’t dispatch several fighters to check it out (that assume your air force actually can fly them let alone in the dark)

    Good thing they are not in a war, sorry, all that stuff is for show, we never planned on using any of it.

  18. Tango

    Ahh yes, the sand blasting.

    I lived on the Pacific ocean, well know for its “activity ”

    Well more accurately, the Northern Pacific. Less viable for marine grown but active.

    No such sand blasting takes place. Too low energy. Sand blasters are hooked up to compressor that put out a minimum of 90 psi (per square inch) and directed in narrow cones. Call it hurricane force plus. Industrials sand blasters are higher still (typical shop air is no less than 145 psi and it goes easily up to 250.

    All that sounds good unless you work with that stuff.

    Any removal of surface stuff also leaves deposits, salt water and material degradation.

  19. Ben Sandilands


    The suitcase and water bottles proved not to be from MH370 but just part of the wash of oceanic debris that comes ashore in major oceans on our polluted planet these days even in remote locations.

    However the Malaysian transport minister, Liow Tiong Lai, did suffer from apparent premature enunciation over their being found, and also declared that window frames had been found, which was to prove also untrue.

  20. Glen

    Tango@18: We had to replace the windscreen in the work ute after a seaside job due to airborne sand damage; it’s real enough. Nevertheless, I, too, doubt that sand impact affected observable fouling on these objects. A better explanation is needed.

    (And I didn’t think I’d be agreeing with Simon Gunson again, but I haven’t read Wise’s piece and won’t be. He explained why.)


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