The search for any sign of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has expanded to the Indian Ocean and the U.S. is “consulting with international partners about the appropriate assets to deploy,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday.
Officials at the Pentagon said it would take about 24 hours before the guided-missile destroyer, USS Kidd, arrives in this new area of interest — which they said is located approximately where the Andaman Sea meets the Indian Ocean. A Navy P-3C Orion surveillance plane started combing the waters off western Malaysia in the northern Straits of Malacca and the Andaman Sea as early as Monday, according to the Navy’s 7th Fleet. That search has turned up nothing so far.
The plane’s original flight path led it over the Gulf of Thailand, above portions of Vietnam and the South China Sea before flying over China on its way to Beijing. On Tuesday, new radar information suggested the flight had taken a sudden an inexplicable westward turn hundreds of miles off course for 90 minutes with its transponder turned off.
The interest Thursday in pivoting naval resources westward from the Gulf of Thailand comes in response to what Carney called “new information that’s not necessarily conclusive, but new information.” Officials told ABC News that a signal from flight MH370 registered on U.S. satellites at least four hours after losing contact with radar early Saturday morning.
The U.S. Navy has three ships in the region, as well as six aircraft designed for reconnaissance and rescue missions. But beginning Friday, the USS Pinckney, also a guided-missile destroyer, will be taking its two Seahawk helicopters and roughly 300 sailors out of the search area for scheduled repairs in Singapore.
The efforts this week have brought together a dozen countries and nearly 80 combined ships and aircraft. Despite numerous false leads and growing Chinese frustration with the Malaysian government, no sign of the plane has been found.