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Robotic mini-sub on 2nd search mission to locate plane debris


Perth - A robot mini-sub hunting for Malaysian jet MH370 will make a second mission to the remote southern Indian Ocean seabed on Tuesday after aborting its first search as it encountered water deeper than its operating limits, officials said.The unmanned submarine, loaded with sonar to map the ocean floor, was deployed on 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 and its built in safety feature returned it to the surface," Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said, without detailing the exact depth of operations.
"The six hours of data gathered by the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle is currently being extracted and analysed," JACC said. The US-made Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) had been due to spend up to 16 hours collecting data.US Navy Captain Mark Matthews explained that the vehicle had exceeded its programmed operational limit and automatically resurfaced.Matthews, a search and recovery expert, said the crew would now refine the task to cope with the depth encountered.The US-made AUV Bluefin-21 would embark on a second mission during the day, weather permitting, JACC said.
JACC chief Angus Houston had announced on Monday the end of weeks of listening for signals from the plane's black boxes and the launch of submarine operations.The vehicle would survey the silty ocean floor for 16 hours at a time to gather a maximum amount of data, he said."Bluefin-21 is planned to redeploy later today when weather conditions permit," JACC added.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. The cause of the disappearance remains a mystery, with no debris found despite an enormous search, involving ships and planes from several nations.