A search team hired by the Australian government to search for MH370 found something off the coast of western Australia this week. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a plane.
It was “fascinating,” Peter Foley of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau told the BBC. “But it’s not what we’re looking for.”
What they did find was a shipwreck nearly two and a half miles below the ocean’s surface — including an anchor. However, the search team says the find is a good sign, even if they had no desire to locate it. “But it’s given us a great deal of confidence,” Paul Kennedy, the search leader, told the New York Times. “It shows we are able to find small pins and small pieces of metal on the seafloor, a long way down. Pieces from MH370 would be roughly 10 times as big as that.”
Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8 last year. The search for the plane has been ongoing for more than a year, but no debris has ever been found. Theories explaining the plane’s disappearance have been far easier to locate.
The search team did not recover the shipwreck and has already moved on. “We won’t pick it up, we wouldn’t spend taxpayers’ money doing that,” Kennedy said. “It is not what we are here to do.” However, they hope experts at the Western Australian Museum might be able to solve the mystery of the old forgotten ship while they continue trying to solve their own case.
Michael McCarthy, a senior maritime archaeologist at the museum, is doubtful he can help. He told the AP, “We’ve got quite a lot of stories about ships that sank in the Indian Ocean mid-voyage and you would be struggling to tell which is which unless you had a complete catalogue of all the ones lost.”
The search team is currently looking for the plane over 23,000 square miles of the Indian Ocean. The process is slow; the BBC described the pace as, “So imagine walking around an area 40 times the size of London, looking for something. And then imagine doing it in waters up to 5km deep.” If nothing is found by the end of May, the search area will be doubled — and could last another year. Winter is coming to Australia, and the four ships taking part in the search are beginning to prepare for the impending bad weather.