As the efforts intensified this weekend to find Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and the 227 passengers and 12 crew onboard, the U.S. Navy joined in the search efforts. According to a Navy statement, the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyers USS Pinckney (DDG 91) and USS Kidd (DDG 100), along with a P-3C Orion patrol aircraft from Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, have started to search for the missing Boeing 777-200 that is presumed to have crashed.
The Pinckney and Kidd were conducting training in the South China Sea when they were diverted to join the search efforts. Two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters attached to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78 embarked aboard the Pinckney are being utilized in the search efforts. The Kidd joined the search on March 10, and brings two additional Seahawks to the search efforts. The Seahawks are designed for search and rescue along with other missions, and can fly a maximum of 180 knots, with a ceiling of 13,000 feet and a maximum range of 450 nautical miles. During a typical three and a half hour sortie a Seahawk can usually search between 400-600 square nautical miles. Both ships are on-station and have been assigned search sectors in the Gulf of Thailand by the Malaysian government, which they are combing through utilizing a “creeping-line” search method.
One of the Seahawks from Pinckney spent 10 and a half hours searching in the Gulf of Thailand on March 10 without finding a trace of MH370. The helicopter is capable of nighttime searching and used its forward looking infra-red (FLIR) camera.
The P-3C Orion, from Patrol Squadron 46 (VP-46) departed Kadena and searched for three hours in the Strait of Malacca, west of Malaysia, on March 9. The P-3C is capable of covering 1,500 square miles every hour. Since departing Kadena, the P-3C has been staged out of Subang, Indonesia, and can loiter for around nine hours at a stretch. Also en route to the search area is the USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194). John Ericsson will provide underway fuel and logistics replenishment to ensure that the Pinckney and her two attached Seahawks can stay on station. Additional U.S. contributions include a team from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), along with technical advisers from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to assist with the investigation of the disappearance of Flight 370.
Although small debris and two oil slicks have reportedly been detected, a search that has seen the use of 34 planes and 40 ships from 10 countries has discovered nothing that has yet been confirmed as coming from the missing aircraft. The flight departed Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at 12:41 a.m. local time on March 8 bound for Beijing International Airport, China, with a scheduled arrival at 6:30 a.m. Beijing time. The efforts of the U.S. join those of Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, the Philippines and New Zealand.