The SAF and MH370

I would first like to offer my condolences to the family and friends of the 239 passengers and crew of the ill-fated MH360. Our hearts goes out to you.

Latest:Two passengers on board the aircraft were flying with a fake Italian and Austrian passport. 

Search efforts via sea has continued throughout the night and Vietnamese ships had arrived on scene.

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) has confirmed on their search efforts for the missing Malaysian Air Service (MAS) Flight 370. The RSN will deploy Submarine Support and Rescue Vessel, MV Swift Rescue with divers, to the incident scene to assist in the Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. Earlier yesterday, Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) C-130 was mobilised and took off this noon for SAL duties. A missile corvette and a frigate with her S-70B Seahawk is already on scene since 0200am.

Credits: RSN

As the name suggest, MV Swift Rescue is a 89m, 4290 tonne vessel built for submarine rescue and support services. Launched in 2008 the Swift Rescue has heli-deck capable of handling a 12ton helicopter, and most importantly operates the Submarine Rescue Vehicle (SRV) DSAR 6.  If necessary to conduct a deep sea search operations, the DSAR 6 has an operational depth of about 500m and able to carry out missions 15 hours without recharging. In addition, Swift Rescue is also equipped with a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) for underwater search duties. The Swift Rescue will be instrumental in savage operations for the wreckage and the black boxes of the aircraft.

Credits:RSN

As you are reading, RSN personnel would have arrived in Singapore Rescue Coordination Centre(RCC) with their RSAF counterparts. To find out more on the RCC operation, you can click here for more

The last reported location of MH370 happen to also scrape the north western tip of the Singapore Flight Information Region (FIR),one of the responsibilities of an air traffic / flight information provider is the ability and provision of search and rescue assets and services in a 24 hour basis. Recommendations from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is that the search and rescue region be corresponding to the Flight Information Region (FIR). Despite its far flung location, the RSAF is able to muster at least two types of aircraft, the Fokker 50 from 121 Squadron and C-130 from 122 Squadron for Search and Locate (SAL) operations. One fixed wing aircraft is always on a 60minute standby 24/7.

*plotting below is based on Singapore FIR boundary coordinates and initial MH370 missing area.

Screen shot 2014-03-09 at AM 01.37.22

US Navy 7th fleet P-3C Orion and destroyer USS Pinckney has also joined in the search, Vietnam has deployed the An-26 for SAL, and Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) EC-725 Caracal and Malaysian Maritime Environment Agency (MMEA) amphibious Bombardier CL-415. It is still unclear which asset the RSAF will be utlilising today, but 121’s Fokker 50 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, and C-130s will be top on the list. *RSAF has committed another C-130 for the SAL operations, making the total C-130 involved to two.

This incident happen just three days after Defence Minister commented that the the steady and prudent defence spending allowed SAF to be poised and ready for unpredictable events, such as 9/11, SARS and the Indian Ocean earthquake. Case in point again in the MH370 incident, when SAF is able to provide useful assistance to unforeseen situations like this. With RSN’s growing submarine operations, the Swift Rescue was South East Asia’s first Submarine Escape and Rescue vessel. Seen here, both services are able to plan,organise and execute far flung missions within 24 hours, especially so for the C-130 which was in action within 12 hours of the incident.

The Singapore FIR is allocated by ICAO based on the, efficient and reliable radar and radio services and long term technological investments.

The MH370 is a Boeing 777-200 (9M-MRO), the 11 year old plane was last involved an incident on August 2012 in Shanghai Pudong which saw its wing tip break off after colliding with a China Eastern A340 on the ground. The sudden lost of contact and the lack of emergency calls suggest a catastrophic lost of air frame. Authorities hare not ruling out foul play and are looking into the two mysterious stolen passport holders.

We wish godspeed to all assets in search of the aircraft and would like to thank them for their dedicated and professional support for our neighbour.

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