Singapore navy finds debris, likely a window panel

Singapore navy finds debris, likely a window panel
Lance- Corporal Chan Kai Song (centre), 20, part of a navy medical team on board MV Swift Rescue, trains personnel on how to prevent contamination in search operations.

A PIECE of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 was found by the Republic of Singapore Navy yesterday.

The item, which is likely to be a window panel, will be handed over to the Indonesian authorities, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in a Facebook post.

It was found by Formidable-class frigate RSS Supreme, which is one of five navy ships that have been sent by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to help with the search operations.

Another ship, the Victory- class missile corvette RSS Valour, which is a fast-attack vessel with search capabilities, had also recovered some pieces of equipment and debris from the disaster area over the last two days. These included a compressed air cylinder and a passenger's luggage item.

Along with two C-130 aircraft, the RSS Supreme and RSS Valour were the first to be dispatched by the SAF for the search operation.

In addition to using the ships' surveillance and navigation radar as well as electro-optic sensor system, SAF personnel have also scanned the waters visually for debris, missing passengers and crew over the last few days.

As the search operation has shifted in focus to underwater efforts, the RSS Valour, which has helped with surface efforts, left for Singapore yesterday, as part of the SAF's rotational plan.

The Bedok-class mine countermeasure vessel RSS Kallang, which set sail from Singapore on Wednesday, has also arrived at the search area. It has underwater sensors and it will assist with underwater operations along with the six-man Autonomous Underwater Vehicle team.

The MV Swift Rescue is also using its own Remotely Operated Vehicle. Locating the black box, which contains flight data and records conversations in the cockpit, remains one of MV Swift Rescue's priorities. The recorder allows experts to determine what went wrong with Flight QZ8501.

On the ship's bridge, binoculars are used to spot anything out of the ordinary. Specialists also listen for the flight's black box using the ship's sensors.

To date, the SAF has contributed over 400 personnel, two C-130 aircraft, two Super Puma helicopters, five navy ships and an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle team.

cherylw@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Aw Cheng Wei


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