THE United States (US) government has sent a second destroyer to the Gulf of Thailand to help in the ongoing search efforts for the missing Malaysia Airlines which is believed to have crashed, possibly killing all 239 passengers and crew aboard.
The US Embassy in Manila, in a statement, said that the USS Kidd, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Pinckney.
It said that the USS Kidd, like the USS Pinckney, has two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters which are designed for search and rescue, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, surveillance, communications relay, naval gunfire support and logistics support.Said helicopters can fly a maximum of 180 knots with a ceiling of 13,000ft, have a maximum range of 245 nautical miles and the capability to conduct searches at nights using its forward looking infra-red camera.
In a 3.5 hour sortie, the HM-60R helicopter can search a 400-600 square nautical mile area, depending on the size of object it’s trying to find, the wind and sea condition, and visibility.According to the Embassy, the destroyers were conducting training and maritime security operations in international waters in the South China Sea before they were sent to assist in the search efforts.
It added that the Malaysian government has assigned the USS Kidd to conduct helicopter search in the southwest section of the Gulf of Thailand, while the USS Pinckney is in the northeast portion.
Both are multi-mission ships with a crew of more than 300 sailors each. They are designed to operate independently or with a group.Furthermore, the Embassy said that the US Navy has sent one maritime patrol aircraft, a P-3C Orion from the Grey Knights of Patrol Squadron 46, from Subang Jaya, Malaysia.
The P-3C Orion is searching an area West of Malaysia in the northern straits of Malacca and Andaman Sea.The Orion has the ability to fly for longer periods and can cover about 1,000 to 1,500 square miles an hour.Its sensors allow the crew to clearly detect small debris in the water. But so far, the Embassy said, ships and aircrafts have not sighted any debris associated with aircraft wreckage.
The Malaysian Boeing 777 took off Saturday morning for Beijing, China and was believed to be flying on Vietnamese airspace when it lost contact with radar controllers.The plane had 239 people on board, including two infants. – William Dipasupil