Chinese ship detects underwater ping while searching for MH370

BY Elisabeth Ponsot  April 5, 2014 at 2:14 PM EST
Wing commander Rob Shearer captain of the RNZAF P3 Orion (L) and SGT Sean Donaldson look out the cockpit windows during search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April0 4, 2014, near Australia. Up to fourteen planes and nine ships resumed in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia today. The airliner disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board and is suspected to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. (Photo by Nick Perry - Pool/Getty Images)

Wing commander Rob Shearer captain of the RNZAF P3 Orion (L) and SGT Sean Donaldson look out the cockpit windows during search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April 4 near Australia. A Chinese ship reported Saturday heading a “pulse signal” in the Indian Ocean. Credit: Nick Perry – Pool/Getty Images

A Chinese ship searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 reportedly heard a “pulse signal” Saturday in the southern Indian Ocean.

According to China’s official state news agency Xinhua, a black box detector deployed by the ship, Haixun 01, picked up signals at the same frequency as those of a flight data recorder.

Australian Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, head of the joint agency coordinating the operation, said in a statement the characteristics reported by the Chinese vessel are consistent with the aircraft’s black box. However, he cautioned there was no confirmation the signals are related to MH370.


“I have been advised that a series of sounds have been detected by a Chinese ship in the search area. The characteristics reported are consistent with the aircraft black box,” he said.

John Goglia, a former U.S. National Transportation Safety Board member, told the Associated Press the report was “exciting,” but added, “there is an awful lot of noise in the ocean.”

“One ship, one ping doesn’t make a success story,” he said. “It will have to be explored. I guarantee you there are other resources being moved into the area to see if it can be verified.”

The report comes at a critical time in the search, as the battery of the plane’s flight recorders is likely to run out soon, perhaps even this weekend.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the detection range of the signal emitted from the missing plane’s flight recorders is about one nautical mile.

A number of white objects were reportedly sighted on the surface about 90 km from the detection area, but were also not confirmed to be related to the aircraft’s disappearance.

Up to 13 planes and 11 ships are scouring the ocean for the missing aircraft on Saturday.