PERTH, Australia – Search crews will for the first time send a sub deep into the Indian Ocean to try to determine whether signals detected by sound-locating equipment are from a missing Malaysian airliner’s black boxes, the Australian head of the search said today.
Angus Houston said the crew on board the Ocean Shield will launch the underwater vehicle as soon as possible. The Bluefin 21 autonomous sub can create a sonar map of the area to chart debris on the seafloor.
The move comes after crews picked up a series of underwater sounds over the past two weeks that were consistent with an aircraft’s black boxes.
“We haven’t had a single detection in six days, and I guess it’s time to go under water,” said Houston.
“Analysis of the four signals has allowed the provisional definition of a reduced and manageable search area on the ocean floor. The experts have therefore determined that the Australian Defense Vessel Ocean Shield will cease searching with the towed pinger locator later today and deploy the autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin 21 as soon as possible,” he said at a news conference in Perth.