A Royal Navy (RN) Trafalgar Class submarine, HMS Tireless, is the latest addition to the fleet of airborne and maritime platforms searching for debris from missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean.
The aircraft went missing on March 8 while on a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew aboard.
An extensive search working from the west Australian city of Perth following the sighting of debris by a satellite has, as yet, been unable to locate the flight recorder or confirm the debris spotted is from an aircraft.
A Royal Navy statement said Tireless’ advanced underwater search capability “will be able to contribute” to attempts to locate the missing aircraft.
“The UK has remained in close touch with Malaysian authorities since the disappearance of the aircraft and is providing a range of support.
“Additionally HMS Echo is due to arrive in the southern Indian Ocean to assist in the search for the transponder on the black box.
“She will also play an important role in the search for debris on the sea surface and her advanced environmental assessment capability will help optimise search operations.
“The UK government is to provide technical assistance and specialist capabilities from across the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the Hydrographic Office, Department of Transport and the Met office.
“Four Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel on secondment to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) are also actively involved in maritime search operations,” according to the statement.
Tireless is one of five serving Trafalgar Class attack submarines designed as Cold War warriors but adapted to 21st century demands.
Based in Devonport, the boat’s hunter killer soubriquet came from its primary role to hunt out and destroy enemy nuclear missile submarines as well as surface ships. That is still part of their work, but over the decades they have been kitted for other roles, including covert surveillance of enemy forces and inshore reconnaissance of installations and landing beaches.
Tireless was launched in March 1984 and has undergone an extensive refit of propulsion, weapons systems and sensors.
HMS Echo is one of the RN’s ice patrol and survey ships. She was launched 12 years ago and can carry out a wide range of survey work, including support to submarine and amphibious operations, through the collection of oceanographic and bathymetric (analysis of the ocean, its salinity and sound profile) data.