Hunt for Flight MH370 Set to Include 'Very Expensive' Other Subs

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Help is on the way for the robotic submarine that has been the only vehicle scouring the floor of the southern Indian Ocean for missing Flight MH370, Malaysia’s transport minister said Thursday.

For over a month, the U.S. Navy-owned Bluefin-21 searched the remote seabed which is thought to be the jet's final resting place until the ship which launches it was forced to return to port. Officials announced Wednesday that its renewed hunt had been temporarily stalled by hardware defects. However, Bluefin-21 has not yet found a single piece of wreckage.

Commercial vehicles capable of reaching undersea depths of almost 20,000 feet are now being sourced, Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters.

“We are finalizing the acquisition process,” the transport minister said.

However, he warned that the autonomous underwater vehicles and the deep-water towed sonars required to carry out the search are “very expensive and sparse.”

Experts have previously told NBC News that only "a handful" of submersible vehicles are capable of performing at such depths.

Image: Bluefin-21 on April 14
The Bluefin-21 is seen aboard Australia's Ocean Shield on April 14.U.S. Navy / Getty Images

Procurement of these vehicles and the teams required to operate them will be done using an open tender process and handled by Australia, according to Hishammuddin.

Meanwhile, a global team of experts is continuing to review all of the raw data relating to the missing Boeing 777. The Malaysia Airlines jet vanished on March 8 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

- Henry Austin

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