Hishammuddin: Petronas to pay for sonar equipment in MH370 search

A crew member aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft during a search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this March 29, 2014 file photo. — Reuters pic
A crew member aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft during a search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in this March 29, 2014 file photo. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 — State oil firm Petronas will pay to supply a sonar locator used to search for Flight MH370 as well as send assets together with other Malaysian firms, Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today.

Hishammuddin said Petronas will also be sending a deep-sea search equipment together with a ship to support the search for the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) plane that disappeared mysteriously almost three months ago.

“On that note, I am pleased to announce that Petronas has agreed to deploy assets under the Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) approach where Malaysian companies are part of the resources to fund the search operations.

“Petronas will contribute by providing funds for a Deep Towed Side Scan Sonar. A complete system will accompany the asset with a dedicated support vessel complete with crew members,” he said in a statement today.

According to Hishammuddin, local defence firm Boustead is also finalising terms on deploying assets including a diving vessel.

He listed down the equipment as an Oceanographic Survey Vessel with bathymetric survey capabilities, a Deep Towed Side Scan Sonar for deep sea search and a Remotely Operated  Vehicle (ROV) for recovery purposes.

On May 2, Hishammuddin said Putrajaya has approached four Malaysian companies — oil firms Petronas and SapuraKencana, defence suppliers Boustead and Deftech — to deploy assets such as underwater equipment and support vessels in the hunt for the missing Boeing 777-200 ER passenger jet.

Today, Hishammuddin said he has officially put in a request to the US to continue leasing the global superpower’s Bluefin-21 Autonomous Unmanned Vehicle (AUV), Orion Deep Towed Side Scan Sonar and the Curv-21 ROV.

China’s survey ship Zhu Kezhen has also covered 4,088 square kilometres in the process to map the deep seabed.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that a public tender will be issued to engage a private contractor to coordinate an expanded underwater search spanning 60,000 square kilometres in a remote part of the Indian Ocean.

On March 8, the Beijing-bound MH370 plane went missing with 239 people on board and no trace of the plane has been found yet despite a massive international search.

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