PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - Australian navy support ship Ocean Shield fitted with a black box detector and an autonomous underwater vehicle will get into action within the next two days in search of MH370.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said the ship would depart from Perth today and would join the ANZAC class frigate HMAS Toowoomba that had left its port near Perth on Saturday.
Xinhua news agency quoted Australian search operation commander Peter Leavy as saying that the critical step to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft at the moment was to confirm the place of debris, after which the Ocean Shield would hunt for the black box.
On the battery life of the black box, US navy supervisor of salvage and diving Captain Mark Matthews said the battery would last around 45 days instead of 30 days.
"Usually we say it lasts 30 days, but it would last longer than that," said Matthews.
The Haixun 01, Nanhaijiu and Jinggangshan vessels of China and HMAS Success of Australia are already in the area.
During yesterday's search mission in the vast new area about 1,100km north of the previous search area off Australian waters, the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) in Canberra re-tasked a P3 Orion to the far southern Indian Ocean near Antarctica after a signal from an emergency distress beacon registered to a fishing vessel was detected in the area.
The RCC was unable to establish communications with the vessel and the nature of distress was still unknown.
A civil jet was brought in to replace the P3 Orion in the mission.
According to The Australian, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that former Defence Force chief Angus Houston would lead a new joint agency co-ordination centre in Perth that would communicate with all international search partners and the families of those on the missing plane.
Amsa said 9 aircraft from six countries scoured an area of some 319,000 sq km of the Indian Ocean.
The planes included two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orions, one Malaysian Air Force C-130 Hercules, a Japanese P3 Orion, a Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force Ilyushin IL-76, a South Korean P3 Orion, a US Navy P8 Poseidon and two civil jets which acted as a communications relay.
The new area is about 1,850km west of Perth based on refined analysis by international air crash investigators.