Jacksonville, FL - Another day in the search for a missing Malaysian airliner wraps up with little new information, but a Jacksonville-based detachment remains committed to their mission.
“Today’s results do not indicate mission failure, rather it indicates the daunting challenge of locating small objects in the vast expanse of the maritime domain,” says Captain Sean Liedman, Commander of Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Eleven based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
One of Wing Eleven’s squadrons, VP-16, is participating in the search. Six of the 13 P-8A Poseidon aircraft out of NAS Jax were deployed to Okinawa, Japan when the airplane went missing. One of those P-8A’s, along with a crew of 20, flew to Malaysia and conducted a mission in the Bay of Bengal on March 14th. When potential debris from the Malaysia plane was seen off Australia, that Poseidon was redirected.
The Poseidon is searching 1,500 miles south and west of Perth, Australia- what Liedman says is a “daunting” task.
“Until we can refine the search area, we’ll have to continue to search large volumes of space,” Liedman says.
Friday’s search grid was smaller than previous days, 1200 sq. mi., in order to increase the ability to conduct a detailed search. The mission overall was nine hours, including roughly three hours flying each way to and from the search area.
“They’ll continue to fly one mission per day until the mission is complete or we move on to the next phase of the operation,” he says.
Liedman could not say how long the search would continue or what the potential next phase could be- both decisions made instead in Washington and with cooperation with the Malaysian government.