One of the three ships searching the depths of the Indian Ocean for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will end its mission Thursday, authorities said.
The Fugro Discovery will leave the remote search zone ahead of the anticipated suspension of efforts to locate the wreckage of the missing Boeing 777.
The Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) said in an operational update Wednesday that the contracted vessel will “transit to Singapore to be readied for its next project, unrelated to the search for MH370.”
It leaves Fugro Equator and Dong Hai Jiu 101 to search the remainder of the 46,000 square mile zone that experts say is the most likely place where the plane crashed in 2014.
Last month the Australian, Malaysian and Chinese governments announced that no further areas would be searched in the absence of any credible new leads.
Since it began searching one year and 10 months ago, Fugro Discovery has made 16 return trips from the western Australian port of Freemantle to the search zone. Each time it carried about 30 personnel on board — including the ship’s crew and search specialists. In that time it has traveled more than 50,000 miles.
However, the only trace of MH370 has been debris washed up on the shores of eastern Africa.
Flight MH370 disappeared in March 2014 with 239 passengers and crew on board shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.
Investigators believe someone may have deliberately switched off the plane's transponder before diverting it thousands of miles off course over the Indian Ocean.