USA/Ocean Infinity

MH370 DECODED
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Ocean Infinity and the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

In January 2018 the US-based company Ocean Infinity commenced an underwater search for Malaysia Airlines' Boeing 777 9M-MRO which went missing on Saturday, 8 March 2014 during flight MH370.

During a period of 138 days, Ocean Infinity searched 125,000 km2 in the southern Indian Ocean but did not find any wreckage from the missing aircraft.

Background

Ocean Infinity is a world leader in hydrographic and geophysical surveys of the ocean floor. The company website oceaninfinity.com describes the services provided under three headings: Locate, Analyse, and Discover.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ocean Infinity, Oliver Plunkett, was keen to locate MH370 and negotiated a "no-find, no-fee"[1] contract with the government of Malaysia. On Wednesday, 10 January 2018 a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Department of Civil Aviation Director-General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman on behalf of the Malaysian government, and the CEO of Ocean Infinity, Oliver Plunkett in a ceremony in Putrajaya. Also present was the Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai[2].

The search would initially focus on an area of 25,000 km2 identified by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. The search priority would be to locate the debris field, the cockpit voice recorder or the flight recorder within 90 days. Agreed terms of payment were apparently on a sliding scale[3]:-

  • $20 million would be paid to Ocean Infinity by the Government of Malaysia if the debris field, cockpit voice recorder or flight recorder are discovered within the first 5,000 km2 searched, increasing as follows -
  • $30 million if the debris field, cockpit voice recorder or flight recorder are located within an area of 10,000 km2
  • $50 million if the debris field, cockpit voice recorder or flight recorder are located within an area of 25,000 km2, or
  • $70 million if the debris field, cockpit voice recorder or flight recorder are discovered outside the initial 25,000 km2

Two Royal Malaysian Navy officers would be on-board the search vessel to represent Malaysia and send daily reports and data back to Kuala Lumpur[4].


Record of the Search
  1. Ocean Infinity preserved a summary of the Search on their website:-

  2. Weekly Updates were published in English and Mandarin on the MH370 Official Site[5]. Information was likely sourced from the two hydrographers from the Royal Malaysian Navy who were on-board the search vessel Seabed Constructor as representatives of the Government of Malaysia.[4]

    The transport minister added the MH370 Response Team headed by Azharuddin, together with officials from the Transport, Foreign and Communication and Multimedia Ministries, would be monitoring the works done by Ocean Infinity via an operation room established within the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) premises.

    The team, also comprising the Royal Malaysia Police and the Attorney-General's Chambers, will be updating families of those on board MH370 via text messages and email, as well as update information on the MH370 official website under the next-of-kin (NOK) section as and when new information becomes available.

    "I would like to reiterate our unwavering commitment towards solving the mystery of the MH370 incident. Our thoughts and prayers have and will always be with the families and loved ones of those on board MH370, as we stand with you in these trying times.

    "It is my hope that we will find the answers that we seek for nearly four years and bring some closure to this unfortunate incident," said Liow.

    Source: M'sia, Ocean Infinity ink agreement to begin new MH370 search[2]


Notes and References
  1. The no-find, no-fee concept was also called no cure, no fee in many media reports. Both terms meant that Ocean Infinity would bear the costs of the search and would only receive payment if the Company could present credible evidence to confirm the location of the debris field, cockpit voice recorder or flight recorder within 90 days.
  2. 2.0 2.1 M'sia, Ocean Infinity ink agreement to begin new MH370 search Malaysiakini (quoting Bernama), Jan 10th, 2018
  3. MH370: Malaysia to pay US firm up to $70 million in search for missing plane, Australian Broadcasting Commission, 11 Jan 2018
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Royal Malaysian Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin told the New Straits Times that the two hydrographers, Lieutenant Commander Azmi Rosedee, 32, and Lieutenant Abdul Halim Ahmad Nordin, 31, were also tasked with ensuring that this search was carried out as per the agreement between the Malaysian government and Ocean Infinity.
    Source: MH370: A wave of optimism sweeps team, New Straits Times, retrieved March 8, 2018
  5. The MH370 Official Site was removed from the Internet during 2019. To view the Weekly Updates related to the search by Ocean Infinity, select this link and follow instructions on how to access an archived version of the MH370 Official Site.