UK & World News

  • 11 April 2014, 3:14

British Nuclear Sub Joins Missing Plane Hunt

The nuclear-powered submarine HMS Tireless is on its way to the area where possible signals from the black box recorder of the missing flight MH370 have been detected, Sky sources say.

The ship HMS Echo arrived in the search zone in the Indian Ocean a few hours ago and will help the Australian naval ship Ocean Shield, which detected four previous pings, and Haixun 01, a Chinese ship.

After dropping sound-locating buoys into the ocean, an Australian Navy P-3 Orion aircraft detected another potential signal on Thursday afternoon in the same area pings were heard on Saturday.

Angus Houston, who is in charge of the operation, confirmed the surveillance plane had picked up the "possible signal".

"The acoustic data will require further analysis overnight but shows potential of being from a made-made source," he said.

If confirmed, it will be the fifth signal to have been recorded by search teams, following on from detections on Tuesday and Saturday that have allowed search teams to narrow down the area they are looking in.

They are searching an area of the southern Indian Ocean 1,670km (1,040 miles) from Perth after the plane went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.

The Haixun 01 vessel initially reported some acoustic signals south of where the Ocean Shield sounds were detected on Saturday.

But the signals heard by the Chinese ship were not believed to have occurred again.

The Australian Navy has been dropping the buoys in a pattern across the area where the Ocean Shield heard the pings.

Attached to each is a hydrophone listening device which dangles about 300m (1,000ft) below the surface.

Australian Navy Commodore Peter Leavy said the hope was that the buoys would be able to pinpoint the source of the signals.

But experts say time is running out as pingers on black boxes are designed to emit signals for no more than 30 days.

Hopes that they may be tracked down in time rose on Thursday after an Australian government document circulated among agencies involved in the search said the pingers could continue for up to 10 more days.

Mr Houston on Wednesday expressed "optimism" about the ongoing search operation.

"I'm now optimistic that we will find the aircraft, or what is left of the aircraft, in the not too distant future," he said.

"But we haven't found it yet, because this is a very challenging business."

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