The robotic submarine that has been searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet will be taken out of action while the Australian ship towing it returns to port for supplies and new personnel, officials said Friday.
The unmanned Bluefin 21 sub, launched from the Australian Defense Vessel, Ocean Shield, has been the only vehicle available to scour the floor of the southern Indian Ocean for wreckage of Flight MH370.
"Ocean Shield is now en-route to Fleet Base West to replenish supplies and personnel," Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre said in a news release. “Once the port visit is complete, the ship will return to the vicinity of its current search area and recommence the search with Phoenix's Bluefin-21."
They did not say how long it would take to return to the search area.
Launched on March 30, the Ocean Shield found the “most promising lead” in the hunt for the missing plane, when it recorded signals consistent with transmissions from aircraft black boxes, when towing a U.S. Navy owned “pinger locator.”
This allowed searchers to zero in on the area of Ocean they believe could be the plane’s final resting place, although officials believe the batteries in the black box recorders died before they could triangulate its final position.
Since then Bluefin 21 has also failed to find any wreckage.