Below is the Seventh Fleet update on the search and rescue / Flight 370 (emailed to me by FNC’s Justin Fishel)
Today our P-8 and P-3 are both flying search missions. These represent
our 14th and 15th missions to date. The P8 will fly today from Perth and
the P-3 will fly from Kuala Lumpur.
The previous 13 missions totaled 122 hours of flying time covering
160,000 square nautical miles.
TOWED PINGER LOCATOR:
As a precautionary measure in case a debris field is located,
U.S. Pacific Command has ordered U.S. Pacific Fleet to move a black box
locator into the region. If a debris field is confirmed, The Navy’s
Towed Pinger Locator 25 will add a significant advantage in locating the
missing Malaysian aircraft’s black box.
The TPL-25 Towed Pinger Locator System is able to locate black
boxes on downed Navy and commercial aircraft down to a maximum depth of
20,000 feet anywhere in the world. Commercial aircraft pingers are
mounted directly on the flight recorder, the recovery of which is
critical to an accident investigation.
The Pinger Locator is towed behind a vessel at slow speeds,
generally from 1-5 knots depending on the depth. The tow fish carries a
passive listening device for detecting pingers that automatically
transmit an acoustic pulse.
“In the event a debris field is located, we’re moving some
specialized locator equipment into the area. The Towed Pinger Locator
has some highly sensitive listening capability so that if the wreck site
is located, we can hear the black box pinger down to a depth of about
20,000ft. Basically this super-sensitive hydrophone gets towed behind a
commercial vessel very slowly and listens for black box pings,” said
Cmdr. Chris Budde, U.S. Seventh Fleet Operations Officer.
“This movement is simply a prudent effort to preposition equipment
and trained personnel closer to the search area so that if debris is
found we will be able to respond as quickly as possible since the
battery life of the black box’s pinger is limited,” said Budde.
If found, the received acoustic signal of the pinger is
transmitted up the cable and is presented audibly, and can be output to
either an Oscilloscope or Signal Processing Computer. The operator
monitors the greatest signal strength and records the navigation
coordinates. This procedure is repeated on multiple track lines until
the final position is triangulated.
The system consists of the tow fish, tow cable, winch, hydraulic
power unit, generator, and topside control console.
*** PAO Note: Please note that movement of the Towed Pinger Locator
into the region is not an indication that we have confirmed of a debris
field. It’s a precautionary measure so that if we do find debris, we’ll
be ready to deploy the equipment to listen for the black box.