HMS Echo has joined HMS Tireless in standing down from the search for the signal from the black box of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
The move comes after the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that the search for the missing Malaysian aircraft is now moving into a new phase.
Survey ship HMS Echo and submarine HMS Tireless played an important role in the hunt for the black box signal by using their specialist sonar capabilities.
But with the Australian command assessing that there is no prospect of further acoustic detections associated with the aircraft’s black box, HMS Tireless and HMS Echo have both been stood down.
The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “The search for the black box signal has been an extremely challenging operation and, while we all hoped for a faster and more conclusive result, I am very proud of the contribution British forces have been able to make as part of this complex international effort.
“The operation is now moving into a new phase, requiring different capabilities.
“HMS Tireless and HMS Echo will be withdrawn, but we remain ready to provide further appropriate assistance as and when required.”
The commanding officer of HMS Echo, Commander Phillip Newell, said: “The search for MH370 has required my ship and her company to work 24/7 in order to assist with the international effort.
“I am extremely proud of the professionalism, dedication and the value they have added to the multinational operation.
“We have faced numerous challenges, not least the sheer size of the search area and the environmental conditions of the southern Indian Ocean.
“As the search moves into the next phase, we sincerely hope that the autonomous underwater vehicles being used by our colleagues are able to provide concrete results in the search for answers as to the fate of the plane.”
The commanding officer of HMS Tireless, Commander R Hywel Griffiths, said: “I am proud of the part HMS Tireless has played in the operation to find MH370.
“The only submarine participating, Tireless, with her advanced underwater search capability, was ideally suited to this challenging task.
“Overcoming some of the most inhospitable sea conditions ever experienced by my crew, we searched 7,000 square nautical miles in a 16-day period.”
Press Release, May 02, 2014; Image: Royal Navy