At the recent media conference conducted by the Chief Coordinator of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston (Ret’d), said that the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield had detected an oil slick on Sunday evening in her current search area.
Preliminary analysis of the sample collected by ADV Ocean Shield has confirmed that it is not aircraft engine oil or hydraulic fluid.
Additionally, Phoenix International, with the assistance of Bluefin, have assessed that there is a small but acceptable level of risk in operating the vehicle in depths in excess of 4,500 metres. This expansion of the operating parameters allows the Bluefin-21 to search the sea floor within the predicted limits of the current search area.
Some media reports yesterday stated that it would take Bluefin-21 anywhere from six weeks to two months to scan the entire underwater search area. This is incorrect.
Since the US Navy provided comment some days ago, the underwater search has been significantly narrowed through detailed acoustic analysis conducted on the four signal detections made by the Towed Pinger Locator on ADV Ocean Shield.
“This analysis has allowed the definition of a reduced and more focused underwater search area. This represents the best lead we have in relation to missing flight MH370 and where the current underwater search efforts are being pursued to their completion so we can either confirm or discount the area as the final resting place of MH370,” said Australian Govt. in its release.
Press Release, April 18, 2014; Image: Australian Govt