Missing MH370: Malaysian firms roped in for new phase of search

KUALA LUMPUR - The new deepwater search phase for MH370 will involve Malaysian companies such as SapuraKencana Petroleum, Petronas and DefTech in the deployment of specialised assets, said acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

These assets include autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), side-scan sonar and remotely operated vehicles (ROV).

Speaking at a press conference here on Friday, he said it was important for all Malaysian entities involved in the search effort to be on the same page.

On reports of an Australian exploration firm, GeoResonance, claiming to have found the MH370 wreckage in the Bay of Bengal, Hishammuddin said: "We agree with Joint Agency Coordination Centre chief Angus Houston that the claim is highly unlikely."

Asked why a SapuraKencana vessel might be deployed to verify the said "unlikely claim", Hishammuddin said that he has yet to decide on the deployment.

"We have to be responsible in this decision, as it's the exact vessel we are going to deploy in the new phase of search. Any detour will cost 14 days exactly," he added.

Though SapuraKencana is ready to deploy the vessel, Hishammuddin will await feedback from parties such as Bangladesh and other countries who have deployed assets in that area before further discussions with the Malaysian company.

"We will proceed based on corroborated and verified information. If the vessel is deployed and the lead turns out to be negative, can you imagine what the families will go through? " he added.