PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - The underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 plane has to date covered about 6,900 sq km (roughly nine times the size of Singapore) of the seafloor, an area slightly larger than the state of Negri Sembilan.
In an operational search update, Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said the underwater search aims to map the MH370 debris field, in addition to locating the aircraft.
Such a map will help to identify and prioritise the recovery of specific aircraft components, including flight recorders, which will assist with the Malaysian investigation.
"The ATSB has utilised the data from the bathymetric survey work to prepare the initial plan for the underwater search, to be followed and referred to by all parties involved.
"The plan includes search timings, methods, procedures, safety precautions and the initial search areas for the various vessels.
The Fugro Discovery, a former Norwegian Navy vessel, has departed the underwater search area on Nov 18 to transit to Fremantle for resupply.
It is expected to arrive on Nov 23 and depart again for the search area on Nov 24.
As for the Fugro Equator, its mobilisation for the underwater search has been postponed due to delays in the supply of a new deep tow winch and cable.
Meanwhile, the vessel has been tasked to return to the search area for further bathymetric operations, which will broaden the survey coverage in the current underwater search area.