AirAsia QZ8501: SAF concludes search operation, MV Swift Rescue returns to base

SINGAPORE: The ship that found the fuselage of the downed AirAsia plane returned to Singapore on Sunday morning, after 20 days in the Indonesian-led multinational search operations.

AirAsia flight QZ8501 travelling from Surabaya to Singapore crashed in the Java Sea on Dec 28 after losing radar contact with Indonesia's air traffic control towers.

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has since deployed more than 400 personnel, two RSAF C-130 aircraft, two Super Puma helicopters, five navy ships and a six-man Autonomous Underwater Vehicle team in the operation.

The Republic of Singapore Navy wrote in a statement that MV Swift Rescue arrived at Changi Naval Base this morning and was received by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who was accompanied by chief of Defence force Ng Chee Meng and navy chief Lai Chung Han.

Servicemen and women on board the other ships and aircraft deployed for the search operations were also present and a minute of silence was observed by all present for the victims lost in the accident.

Dr Ng acknowledged their contributions and commended them for playing a significant role in the multinational search operations.

"Our SAF servicemen and women gave their best efforts for the search operations. I want to thank all of them for their professionalism and commitment. They were deployed at short notice over the New Year holidays and experienced rough conditions.

"Nevertheless, they undertook each task assigned to the best of their abilities and did Singapore proud. Their efforts helped bring closure to the families of the victims and provide answers to the cause of the accident," he said.

MV Swift Rescue discovered the main wreckage of the AirAsia plane last Wednesday. It left the debris field off Kalimantan two days later, after Indonesia said it would continue the search for the rest of the plane on its own.