Defense Department Supports MH370 Search Mission

A group of Royal Australian Navy sailors aboard the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Perth awaits Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Cesar Chavez, right, at the start of a replenishment-at-sea in the Indian Ocean, April 12, 2014. The Perth is participating in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Royal Australian Navy photo by Able Seaman Imagery Specialist Nicolas Gonzalez

The Defense Department (DOD) is continuing to support the international search mission for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said.

A group of Royal Australian Navy sailors aboard the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Perth awaits Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Cesar Chavez, at the start of a replenishment-at-sea in the Indian Ocean, April 12, 2014. The Perth is participating in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Royal Australian Navy photo by Able Seaman Imagery Specialist Nicolas Gonzalez.

The total cost of the search to date is $11.4 million, Warren said. This figure includes $4,200 per flight hour for the two P-8 Poseidon aircraft involved in the search, he added. The plane and its 239 passengers disappeared March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The costs break down as follows, Warren said:

– $4.6 million in operations and maintenance funds;

– $3.2 million in overseas humanitarian disaster and civic aid funds; and

– $3.6 million for underwater search equipment and support.

The P-8s continue conducting aerial search operations, and the Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle completed its twelfth search mission, the colonel said.

Bluefin-21 has now completed more than 90 percent of a focused underwater search. Unfortunately, no contacts of interest have been found,” he said.

The department has received no requests for additional underwater search assets, he added.

The Military Sealift Command dry cargo ship USNS Cesar Chavez joined the task force April 10 to provide logistical support.

Chavez is the Navy’s newest combat logistics force ship, and is operated by a crew of 125 civil service mariners. The ship also has a complement of 11 U.S. Navy personnel, who provide operational support and supply coordination, a Navy news release said.

U.S. Department of Defense, April 25, 2014; Image: DOD

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