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Navy adjusts effort in search for missing Malaysian airliner

Mar. 13, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
USS Pinckney transits the Pacific
The guided missile destroyer Pinckney will soon end its participation in search efforts for a Malaysian passenger jet that has been missing for nearly a week. (MC3 Kenneth Abbate / Navy)
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The guided missile destroyer Pinckney will soon end its participation in search efforts for a Malaysian passenger jet that has been missing for nearly a week.

“In coordination with the government of Malaysia, we have decided to send USS Pinckney to Singapore for planned maintenance and routine voyage repairs,” said the Navy’s 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. William Marks. “With the search area expanding into the Strait of Malacca, Pinckney is not currently needed until follow-on information is available and planning occurs. She will continue searching during her transit south today.”

Another destroyer, the Kidd, is en route from the Gulf of Thailand to the Strait of Malacca to look for Air Flight MH370, which disappeared Saturday while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, Marks said in an email to Navy Times on Thursday. The Kidd is expected to arrive in the new search area within the next day or two.

Search efforts have been confounded by confusion about whether the plane was last spotted over the Gulf of Thailand or to the west of Malaysia in the Strait of Malacca, creating a large search area. The Chinese government announced Wednesday that one of its satellites detected what could be aircraft debris in the South China Sea, but a search of the area Thursday did not turn up any signs of the plane, Malaysia’s civil aviation chief told The Associated Press.

“We do not have information to corroborate reports of debris spotted by Chinese satellites,” Marks said.

A Navy P-3C Orion surveillance plane that has been searching the Strait of Malacca will be joined on Saturday by a P-8A Poseidon, which has more advanced surveillance technology and a greater range than the Orion, he said.

“This move adds the P-8s enhanced technology and greater range to the search efforts while maximizing planned maintenance and guarding against air crew fatigue for both aircraft,” Marks said. “The P-8A is the most advanced long range anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare aircraft in the world. A true multi-mission aircraft, it also provides superior maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.”

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