New Delhi: Deep-sea search by ocean research vessel Sagar Nidhi for the remains of Indian Air Force aircraft AN 32 in Bay of Bengal for the last six days did not yielded any results till Saturday evening.
The vessel belonging to Chennai-based National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) had been scanning the seabed with its advanced device since August 8. The vessel will take a break from search, as it will arrive at Chennai port for refuelling for three days, before the search resumes mid-next week.
AN 32 transport aircraft went missing with 29 passengers onboard on July 22, about 15 minutes after it took off from Tambaram Air Force base to Port Blair. “We have received some signals, but it is not clear. Further survey is required,” said Satheesh C Shenoi, director, NIOT.
Sagar Nidhi, which returned from Mauritius, was directly diverted and arrived at the search location about 169 miles off Chennai coast on early Monday morning.
The vessel had since then been scanning the seafloor with its multi-beam echo sounder and sub-bottom profiler through acoustic waves. The vessel has to survey a total area of 220 nautical miles at a depth of about 3500metres.
Shenoi said the vessel will return to Chennai port for three days for fueling and loading of provisions for the search team, as it was directly sent to the search location upon return from Mauritius. The vessel spent almost eight months on research activity off the coast of Mauritius.
The ship has a multi-beam echo sounder device that determines the depth of seabed and detects objects in water through acoustic waves up to a depth of 6000 meters. However, the resolution of the scanned images of the seafloor will reduce as the depth increases. Rough sea conditions and lack of information on the exact location of the debris may also make search activity difficult.
Deep sea search was earlier delayed by a week, as rough ocean due to bad weather delayed arrival of the vessel from Mauritius. For two weeks after the aircraft went missing, Indian Navy, Air Force and Indian Coast Guard were jointly conducting search on the surface of Bay of Bengal looking for the aircraft debris.