A second ship was preparing to join the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in a remote patch of the Indian Ocean on Wednesday, as Malaysia's defence minister expressed confidence the plane will be found.
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The Discovery, provided by Dutch contractor Fugro, was scheduled to arrive in the search zone about 1,800 kilometres west of Australia on Wednesday, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said in a statement. The GO Phoenix, a Malaysian ship that has been combing the area since early October, is in the Western Australian city of Fremantle getting fresh supplies.
Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who was in Australia to greet the GO Phoenix during its return to port, said everything possible was being done to find the Boeing 777, which inexplicably disappeared on March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
"We must continue to hope because sometimes hope is all we have," he said. "We will find MH370."
False alarms on Western Australia coastline
The search ships are dragging sonar devices called towfish through the water about 100 metres above the seabed to hunt for the wreckage. The towfish, which are also equipped with jet fuel sensors, transmit data in real-time to those on board the vessels.
The underwater search resumed in early October after being on hold for four months while crews mapped the seabed in the 60,000-square kilometre search zone. The GO Phoenix has searched over 1,200 square kilometres so far.
Despite a massive air and sea search, not a single piece of debris from the plane has been found.
Australian officials are still receiving reports from people who believe they have found wreckage washed up along the Australian coastline, but all have been false alarms. Drift modelling by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has shown any floating debris would likely have travelled west, away from Australia. Because of that, Australia asked Indonesian officials to be on the lookout for any wreckage, as it is possible some may have drifted to the island nation's coastline, the transport safety bureau said.
Meanwhile, a third ship, the Fugro Equator, is still mapping areas of the search zone and will join the hunt once that is complete, likely in the next week or so.
The search is expected to take up to a year.