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#MH370 – Current ATSB activity

#MH370 – Current ATSB activity

In the Australian Senate on 24th February 2015, there was a major update, with the transcript and actual hearing visuals below:

Page 156 Senate Tuesday, 24 February 2015
RURAL AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS AND TRANSPORT LEGISLATION COMMITTEE

Senator BACK: Mr Foley, can you just give us a very brief update on the progress of the MH370 recovery and the number of vessels now in the recovery operation?

Mr Foley: I am the Program Director, Operational Search for MH370. We have currently got four vessels working in the search area. Three of those are contracted jointly by the Malaysian and Australian governments. They are the Fugro vessels—the Fugro Supporter, the Fugro Equator, the Fugro Discovery—

Senator BACK: Those are the Dutch vessels?

Mr Foley: Dutch mother company. The actual local company is based here in Australia. It is Fugro Survey Pty Ltd. The contract is with them as the Australian entity. The fourth vessel, GO Phoenix, is actually contracted by DefTech, a Malaysian defence contractor.

Senator BACK: Can you tell us approximately the number of square kilometres of the priority area that have now been searched and what does that represent percentage wise—35, 50?

Mr Foley: We have done about 24,000 square kilometres, which represents about 40 per cent of the initial priority search area of 60,000 square kilometres.

Senator BACK: Can you give us some indication when you think that that balance of about another 3½ thousand square kilometres—

Mr Foley: In what sense?

Senator BACK: When will you have completed the search of this priority zone?

Mr Foley: We anticipate that 60,000 square kilometres will be completed towards the end of May.

Senator BACK: Can you give us any indication whether the four vessels have come up with anything of interest or promise?

Mr Foley: The four vessels have certainly identified various objects on the sea floor, which may be man-made. But at this point—we have expert analysis of the sonar data and imagery—there is nothing that indicates that it is likely to be an aircraft debris field. There are some isolated objects which, by and large, could be man-made but we have not positively identified any of them as such.

Senator BACK: Are you saying that preparations are in place in the event that wreckage is found?

Mr Foley: Yes, we have been making preparations. As you may be aware, we requested expressions of interest for a recovery operation. We ran a 25-day open tender process through AusTender. That closed last week. We are in the process of assessing those expressions of interest to participate in a further tender process for the recovery operation.

Senator BACK: So there was a level of interest, competence and expertise to do that?

Mr Foley: There was a good response.

Senator BACK: Thank you.

Mr Dolan: Senator, if I could just make clear: governments have not yet decided or authorised recovery. We are making preparations against the event of—

Senator BACK: I can understand that. Thanks, Mr Dolan.

Senator STERLE: These four items—are they the size of a suitcase or a desk?

Mr Foley: More than four, Senator Sterle. We have a system of classification. We are very careful in the way we treat the sonar data in terms of its acquisition, how we gather it and indeed how we assess and analyse it. We have a system of classification for objects, so we have three levels, if you like—one, two and three. Level 3 is items of potential interest—an object detected on sonar of some interest. Level 2 is likely to be something that is a bit more interesting, probably man-made. A level 1 object we need to investigate immediately. It could be an aircraft debris field. We have not had any level 1s. We have, to date, according to my memory, had about eight level 2s. And we have had well over 100 level 3s. I would hazard a guess that some have the dimensions of a shipping container, but we do not know until we get photo imagery. You are not taking a picture with sonar.

Senator STERLE: Thank you.

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 Where oh where is MH370???

View the actual Senate hearing:

http://youtu.be/T7Mw3Wr44Gw

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