A mini-sub hunting for Malaysian jet MH370 was on Tuesday set for a second sweep of the remote Indian Ocean seabed, after aborting its first search when it encountered water deeper than its operating limits.
The unmanned submarine loaded with sonar deployed Monday night from the Australian ship Ocean Shield which has spearheaded the hunt for the Boeing 777 that vanished on March 8.
“After completing around six hours of its mission, Bluefin-21 exceeded its operating depth limit of 4,500 metres (15,000 feet) and its built in safety feature returned it to the surface,” Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre said.
“The six hours of data gathered by the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle is currently being extracted and analysed,” JACC said.
The AUV had been due to spend 16 hours collecting data.
US Navy Captain Mark Matthews said the vehicle had exceeded programmed operational limits and automatically resurfaced.
“In this case the vehicle’s programmed to fly 30 metres over the floor of the ocean to get a good mapping of what’s beneath,” he said.
Charts had put the depth at 4,200-4,400 metres, he said.
“It went to 4,500 metres and once it hit that max depth, it said this is deeper than I’m programmed to be, so it aborted the mission.”