The U.S. Defense Department is continuing to support the international search mission for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said yesterday.
The total cost of the search to date is $11.4 million, Warren said. This figure includes $4,200 per flight hour for the two P-8 Poseidon aircraft involved in the search, he added. The plane and its 239 passengers disappeared March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The costs break down as follows, Warren said:
- $4.6 million in operations and maintenance funds;
- $3.2 million in overseas humanitarian disaster and civic aid funds; and
- $3.6 million for underwater search equipment and support.
The P-8s continue conducting aerial search operations, and the Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle completed its twelfth search mission, the colonel said.
“Bluefin-21 has now completed more than 90 percent of a focused underwater search … . Unfortunately, no contacts of interest have been found,” he said.
The department has received no requests for additional underwater search assets, Warren said.
The Military Sealift Command dry cargo ship USNS Cesar Chavez joined the task force April 10 to provide logistical support.
Chavez is the Navy’s newest combat logistics force ship and is operated by a crew of 125 civil service mariners. The ship also has a complement of 11 U.S. Navy personnel, who provide operational support and supply coordination, a Navy news release said.
Press Release, April 25, 2014; Image: U.S. DoD