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First ship to leave MH370 search as suspension looms

One of the three vessels involved in the underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 that operated flight MH370 will be released from search efforts, ahead of the search's likely suspension.

The Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) says in a statement that Fugro Discovery will depart from the search area on 11 August to “transit to Singapore to be readied for its next project, unrelated to the search for MH370.”

That will leave only two vessels – Fugro Equator and Dong Hai Jiu 101 – to complete the remainder of the search.

Fugro Equator continues to conduct the search, while a third vessel – Dong Hai Jiu 101 – docked in Fremantle on 8 August for a scheduled port visit.

Fugro Discovery’s imminent departure from the search comes only weeks after the Australian, Malaysian and Chinese governments announced that the search would be suspended once the 120,000km2 priority area has been covered, in the absence of any new leads.

The JACC says that, as of 10 August, “More than 110,000 square kilometres of the seafloor have been searched”.

It adds that weather conditions in the search area are forecast to be poor in the coming days, with rough seas to impact on its operations.

So far, the nearly two-year underwater search has not located any wreckage related to MH370, however several pieces of debris have washed up on African shores in recent months.

Analysis by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has determined that the majority of those pieces of debris are likely to be from the missing aircraft, and the JACC says that the areas they were found are consistent with drift modelling that indicates the aircraft went down in the search area.

Flight MH370 disappeared in the early hours of 8 March 2014 while enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Analysis of satellite signals has led the Malaysian government to conclude that it ended its flight in the southern Indian Ocean.

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