Mini-sub aborts again in MH370 hunt

The Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Bluefin-21, encountered a “technical difficulty” and resurfaced Wednesday, officials said

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A mini-submarine making its second dive in the hunt for Malaysian jet MH370 encountered a “technical difficulty” and resurfaced Wednesday, officials said, after the first mission also aborted.

“The Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Bluefin-21, was forced to resurface this morning to rectify a technical issue,” Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.

“Bluefin-21 was then redeployed and it is currently continuing its underwater search.”

Data downloaded from the unmanned vehicle while on the deck of the Australian vessel Ocean Shield showed no significant findings.

"Initial analysis of the data downloaded this morning indicates no significant detections," JACC said.

Searching for missing flight MH370 continued almost 2,000 kilometers off the coast of Perth, Australia.

The Bluefin 21 was forced to end it first deployment on Monday only six hours into what was meant to be a 16-hour operation after it exceeded its depth limit.

The drone was sent by search crews into the Indian Ocean to try to determine whether signals detected by sound-locating equipment are from the missing Malaysian plane’s black box. The autonomous sub can create a sonar map of the area to chart any debris on the seafloor.

An aircraft’s black box records data from the cockpit and conversations among flight crew and may provide answers about what happened to the missing plane, which vanished March 8 with 239 people on board, most of whom were Chinese nationals.

Malaysian authorities have still not ruled out mechanical problems as causing the plane’s disappearance, but say evidence suggests it was deliberately diverted from its chartered route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The introduction of the Bluefin marks a methodical, slower paced new phase of the search, now in its 40th day and described by the search coordinator, retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, as the most expensive in aviation history.

U.S. Naval personnel have said the drone could take up to two months to scour a 600 sq km area where the plane is believed to have sunk.

The deep sea area now being searched, the Zenith Plateau, has never been mapped in detail because it is not in any country’s economic zone.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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