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A survey vessel contracted by Australia has begun scouring the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, authorities said. The vessel Fugro Equator joins the Chinese Navy ship Zhu Kezhen in undertaking survey activities, according to the Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC), the Australian organization coordinating the search.
The two vessels, under the direction of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, are conducting a "bathymetric survey," a detailed map of the ocean floor that is "crucial" to carrying out the deep water search for the missing jet that is scheduled to begin in August, JACC said. It is expected that it will take at least three months to finish the bathymetric survey of the 23,166 square miles (60,000 square kilometer) search zone, according to JACC.