Navy joins plane search

HMAS Toowoomba.
HMAS Toowoomba.

HMAS Toowoomba, an Anzac-class frigate based at the island, left Fleet Base West on Saturday night after being diverted from other operational tasks to join the search for the missing plane, which is believed to have crashed about 1800km off the WA coast.

Toowoomba joined the supply ship HMAS Success in the search, with Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield leaving the base on Monday night and Defence Maritime Services vessel Seahorse Standard leaving on Wednesday.

Carrying a S-70B2 Seahawk helicopter, HMAS Toowoomba arrived in the search area on Monday, with Ocean Shield arriving yesterday and Seahorse Standard expected to reach it today.

Before leaving, HMAS Toowoomba‘s acting Commanding Officer Matt Doornbos said the crew was eager to join the international operation.

‘We know this will be a tough and potentially challenging deployment, but HMAS Toowoomba is capable and well suited to this mission and our Seahawk helicopter will help us maximise our reach’ he said.

ADV Ocean Shield is fitted with specialist underwater search and location equipment, including a Towed Pinger Locator and Bluefin-21 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. It is hoped the TPL-25 system can be used to find the audio pinger attached to the aircraft’s black box.

Seahorse Standard is a highly manoeuvrable vessel with considerable experience in deep-sea search and recovery operations.