The United States Defense Department is continuing to support the international search mission for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said yesterday (April 24).
The total cost of the search to date is $11.4 million, Warren said. This figure includes $4,200 per flight hour for the two P-8 Poseidon aircraft involved in the search, he added. The plane and its 239 passengers disappeared March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The costs break down as follows, Warren said:
- $4.6 million in operations and maintenance funds
- $3.2 million in overseas humanitarian disaster and civic aid funds; and
- $3.6 million for underwater search equipment and support.
The P-8s continue conducting aerial search operations, and the Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle completed its twelfth search mission, the colonel said.
“Bluefin-21 has now completed more than 90 percent of a focused underwater search … . Unfortunately, no contacts of interest have been found,” he said.
The department has received no requests for additional underwater search assets, Warren said.
The Military Sealift Command dry cargo ship USNS Cesar Chavez joined the task force April 10 to provide logistical support.
Chavez is the U.S Navy’s newest combat logistics force ship, and is operated by a crew of 125 civil service mariners. The ship also has a complement of 11 U.S. Navy personnel, who provide operational support and supply coordination, a Navy news release read.
Up to 8 military aircraft and 10 ships are planned to assist in today’s search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, according to JACC (Australian Joint Agency Coordination Centre).
Today the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has planned a visual search area totaling approximately 49,240 square kilometres. The centre of the search area lies approximately 1584 kilometres north west of Perth.
Bluefin-21 AUV is currently completing mission 13 in the underwater search area. Bluefin-21 has now completed approximately 95 per cent of the focused underwater search area. No contacts of interest have been found to date, JACC added.
US DoD, April 25, 2014