Severe weather has hampered the search for missing Malaysian passenger aircraft MH370 for the second week running, with the survey vessel Fugro Supporter pulling out of the search.
Deteriorating weather and sea conditions have made it unsafe to launch and recover the autonomous underwater vehicle, which will now be demobilised and stored in Fremantle over the winter months, according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
GO Phoenix and Fugro Discovery will also resupply in Fremantle, leaving Fugro Equator alone to continue the search in the coming weeks.
While no sign of plane wreckage has been found since the aircraft disappeared in March last year, the bureau today announced the wreck of a ship had been uncovered on the ocean floor.
Fugro Equator’s deep tow system detached a cluster of small sonar contacts in the search area, the bureau said. Initially the wreckage was examined as possibly belonging to MH370; however further sonar scanning determined the debris was a previously uncharted wreck.
Meanwhile, the Australian federal government budget released last night shows that while the search area has doubled, no further Australian funding has been added to the operation.
According to the budget, the Australian government will provide AUD79.6 million (USD63.2 million) over the two years (2014-15) of the search. This cost will be offset by financial contributions to the search from other countries.
“The actual cost will depend on a number of factors, including the length of the search,” the budget papers said.
AUD 50 million has been allocated for financial year 2016 towards the underwater search, if no sign of the aircraft is found in the meantime.