Seventh Fleet update on search and rescue operation – Malaysian Flight 370

Malaysia Malaysia flight 370

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.




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.