PETALING JAYA - The Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen, which is mapping the floor of an area in the southern Indian Ocean to help locate MH370, is returning to port for repairs following equipment defect.
The Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said Zhu Kezhen was currently en route to the Fremantle port, a journey which is expected to take a couple of days.
"Zhu Kezhen suffered a defect to its multibeam echo sounder and is coming into port for the necessary repairs.
"As previously advised, an Australian contracted survey vessel will also be involved in conducting the bathymetric survey and will arrive in the search area this month," it said in a statement here yesterday.
The Zhu Kezhen is carrying out the bathymetric survey in areas provided by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) in an effort to help locate the aircraft which disappeared on March 8.
JACC had stated previously that the bathymetric survey was expected to take about three months, pointing out that knowing the seafloor terrain was crucial in enabling the subsequent underwater search.
Zhu Kezhen's operation, said JACC, was being supported by the Chinese ship Haixun 01 and Malaysian vessel Bunga Mas 6.
The autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21, which scoured over 850 sq km of the ocean floor in the search of the aircraft, completed its last mission on Wednesday.
This area, said the ATSB, could now be discounted as the final resting place of MH370.
On Wednesday, JACC had said the search for MH370 involved three major stages - reviewing all existing information and analysis to define a search zone of up to 60,000 sq km along the arc in the southern Indian Ocean, conducting a bathymetric survey to map the sea floor in the defined area and acquiring the specialist services for a comprehensive search.