KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 6 — The ship searching for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 had disappeared from tracking screens for three days when it mysteriously switched off its own satellite monitoring system before reappearing, The Guardian reported.
The UK paper said the ship called Seabed Constructor by US exploration company Ocean Infinity, which Putrajaya had hired to look for the plane that disappeared almost four years ago, began the hunt on January 22, but last Thursday, the ship turned off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) with no explanation.
Three days later, Seabed Constructor reportedly reappeared outside the search area and was on its way to a scheduled refuelling stop at the Australian port of Fremantle.
The Guardian quoted family members of those on board MH370 calling on the Malaysian government and Ocean Infinity to explain the blackout.
“I found the development quite odd, and worrying,” KS Narendran, who had a relative on the plane, was quoted saying.
“If this silence and becoming invisible was intentional, to ward off suspicion, a satisfactory explanation is due. If it was for other reasons, then in the interests of transparency, we ought to be told what caused it.”
After refuelling in Fremantle, Seabed Constructor was reportedly expected to return to the search area.
According to The Guardian, between January 22 and January 30, Seabed Constructor had searched a “high priority” area that Australian researchers had pinpointed as the plane’s likely resting place.
Australian authorities were unable to find the plane in a three-year search spanning 120,000 square kilometres in the Indian Ocean, far off Australia’s west coast, between 2014 and 2017.
Seabed Constructor is working on a no-find, no-fee basis. AFP reported that Ocean Infinity will only be paid if they find the plane or its black boxes, with a reward of up to US$70 million (RM274 million).
MH370 disappeared in March 2014 enroute to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, with 239 people on board the plane. It is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean.