The ship hired to search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which mysteriously disappeared for three days was reportedly ‘refueling’ in Australia.
The Seabed Constructor turned off its transponder in the Indian Ocean, prompting speculation that crew had found the plane’s wreckage but wanted to be sure of payment before revealing it to the Malaysian government.
‘There is nothing to be worried about. We urge family members not to listen to rumours or fake news,’ Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told AFP.
The Transport Minister said the search would continue ‘as planned’.
The ship docked south of Perth on Thursday after its brief disappearance and came back online Tuesday.
The Seabed Constructor’s Texas-based operator, Ocean Infinity, refused to explain the blackout at the time.
The company only said the ship will be docked for a short time before continuing the search.
The Seabed Constuctor (pictured) hired to search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which mysteriously disappeared for three days was reportedly ‘refuelling’ in Australia
It comes after a leading aviation expert predicted a disaster like MH370 will happen again soon.
David Stupples, a professor of electronic and radio systems at City, University of London, said: ‘You can’t say MH370 won’t ever happen again, because it will.’
He was referring to the fact that international requirements for new planes to broadcast their locations every minute don’t come in until 2021.
‘Until 2040 or 2050, there’s going to be a large number of aircraft flying around that don’t have that tracking system fitted,’ he said.
Currently some airlines including Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Qantas Airways and Qatar Airways track planes every 15 minutes, which will become a requirement this November.
But still a jet travelling at 575mph that has been missing for 15 minutes requires a search zone of 170,000 square kilometers – an area the size of Florida. This makes finding any survivors very unlikely.
MH370 vanished en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014 with 239 people on board.
It disappeared after its aircraft communications, addressing and reporting system (Acars) was switched off less than an hour after taking off.
The vessel was tasked with searching the zone aviation specialists say is most likely to be where MH370’s fuel reserves were exhausted, dubbed the 7th Arc
On 2 January, The Constructor left the Port of Durban to begin its search on a ‘no find, no fee’ deal.
It planned to use sonar scanning equipment to find the aircraft, after a failed multinational search cost Australian, Malaysian and Chinese authorities $200million.
The Malaysian Government will pay US company Ocean Infinity more than $55million if it finds the plane within 90 days.
The freelance boat’s designated search area was located just outside the 120 square kilometres previously scoured along the 7th Arc – the zone aviation specialists say is most likely to be where MH370’s fuel reserves were exhausted.
No sign of the plane was found and an Australian-led hunt – the largest in aviation history – was called off in January last year.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) attempted to find missing aircraft MH370 for two years. A private company has renewed its pledged to locate the wreckage on a ‘no find, no fee’ basis
The plane vanished after its aircraft communications, addressing and reporting system (Acars) was switched off less than an hour after taking off
The Constructor is not the first to comb over this patch of ocean.
Fugro Equator, Fugro Discovery and Havila Harmony have all attempted to find the presumably downed plane.
Only three confirmed fragments of MH370 have been found, all of them on western Indian Ocean shores, including a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon.
Each ship’s progress was tracked meticulously by aviation enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists.
Keeping tabs on the Constructor has proved more challenging: the vessel went dark last week, causing massive speculation.
One online user speculated the vessel it had found MH370 but planned to keep its location secret until it had confirmed its government-funded fee.
Another speculated Ocean Infinity had failed to find the missing Boeing 777 and had instead detoured towards the wreckage of what is believed to be the S.V Inca – a Peruvian transport ship that vanished on the way to Sydney more than 100 years ago.
Four kilometers inside the 7th Arc, the century-old ship was spotted by one of the Constructor’s predecessors, the Havila Harmony, which mistook the shipwreck for the lost plane’s fuselage.
A multinational search cost Australian, Malaysian and Chinese taxpayers $200million. This piece of aircraft debris discovered on the island of Pemba, off the coast of Tanzania
MH370 was tracked by amateur aviation enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists alike
On its discovery there were chatters that it was searching for lost treasure and Inca gold.
The Constructor’s involvement in this new chapter in the aircraft’s bizarre disappearance has not be to everyone’s liking.
Aviation journalist Jeff Wise was critical of the new search in his blog.
As a former member of the independent group of investigators tasked with advising the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in its search for MH370, Wise is personally invested in the case.
‘As I write this, the scan of the innermost section of the Primary Search Area has been completed, but the assessment has not yet been released.
‘However, the fact that Seabed Constructor has moved on to another area suggests that probably nothing was found there, either.
‘A big caveat: we don’t really know how long it takes the search team to assess the data collected during each pass.