PERTH - Malaysia is optimistic of finding missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 as the new search phase begins.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said he was 99.9 per cent optimistic of finding the aircraft.
"If based on the technology that we are using and whether we are looking at the right place, then we are talking about 99.9 per cent optimistic.
"However, that is not an answer that says we are definitely going to find it as the ocean is huge. The aircraft is minuscule compared to the vast ocean," he told a press conference after launching the GO Phoenix Vessel and sophisticated underwater search equipment called the ProSAS towed side scan sonar at Freemantle Port here yesterday.
The GO Phoenix Vessel and the sonar are a Malaysian government contracted vessel funded by Petronas.
Hishammuddin said they were additions to the Malaysian-Australian Contracted Vessel by Fugro Survey Limited that Malaysia had co-shared with the Australian government.
"The Pro Synthetic Aperture Sonar (ProSAS) which is mounted on the GO Phoenix Vessel has the ability to search up to a depth of 6,000m and can cover up to 194 sq km per day.
"In addition, the GO Phoenix Vessel is equipped with a multibeam sonar for blind spots," he said, adding that the contribution was a testament to Malaysia's inclusiveness in the next phase of the search effort.
On allegations by an aviation industry top executive that someone was in control of MH370 until it went down, Hishammuddin said such rumours should be verified.
"I have dealt with all kinds of rumours and theories - from satellite images to flying carpets and coconuts. All information should be verified," he said.
Hishammuddin vowed that the victims of the MH370 tragedy would not be forgotten, saying "all that could be done to find the aircraft had been done thus far".
On the downed MAS MH17 investigation, Hishammuddin said Malaysia was committed to resolving the investigation quickly but had no intention to blame anybody until the investigation was completed.
Petronas Malaysia Petroleum Management vice-president Adif Zulkifli said the company contributed RM67million (S$26 million) for the GO Phoenix search vessel and the sonar equipment.
He added that the funds would go to the lease of the search equipment for the duration of six months until February 2015.
The vessel is expected to begin its 30-day search mission today at the southern Indian ocean, about 3,000km off Perth.
Joint Agency Coordination Centre chief coordinator Judith Zielke said she would be meeting with Malaysian authorities tomorrow in planning for recovery and disaster victim identification.
"We are planning for what is required when the aircraft is located. We always try to remain optimistic despite it being some seven months since the plane went missing," she said.