P-8s, Cesar Chavez Detached from MH370 Search
PACIFIC OCEAN - In conjunction with the collaborative decision to cease flight operations, the two U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft flying missions in support of the MH370 search efforts, along with USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE 14), were detached from search operations and support efforts in Perth and will return to other operations within Seventh Fleet this week.
The decision to detach the P-8s was made in close coordination with the Governments of Australia and Malaysia in view of the diminishing possibility debris will be found on the surface of the water.
Overall Seventh Fleet patrol aircraft support included 45 missions with 396 hours of flight time, covering 513,000 square nautical miles.
Bluefin-21 completed a sub-surface search of over 400 square kilometers, focused on a 10NM radius circle around the second set of pings detected. We are coordinating with the Australian government on future employment of the Bluefin-21 and will provide information as it is finalized.
Seventh Fleet continues to offer support to Australia and Malaysia as they move forward in long-term recovery efforts.
Approximately 800 Sailors from Seventh Fleet assisted in the search operations, including Sailors from the USS Pinckney (DDG 91) and USS Kidd (DDG 100), the P-3 and P-8 squadrons in Malaysia and Australia, USNS Cesar Chavez, the command and control staff of Seventh Fleet aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), and Naval Sea Systems Command.
"Support from our allies and partners in the region has been exceptional. At one point 26 countries were working together in close coordination to achieve a common goal," said Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas, commander U.S. Seventh Fleet. "To see such significant depth of international cooperation coming together for one mission is unprecedented and highly encouraging for the security and stability of the region."