Indonesian officials in charge of the search for missing AirAsia Flight 8501 say the crew of the San Diego-based USS Fort Worth detected two metal objects on Jan. 6 using its Tow Fish sonar system.
Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, the chief of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, told CCTV America its possible the metal objects are parts of the plane's fuselage. However, he said, strong currents and winds postponed efforts to further identify the objects:
“Today the weather is good enough but the current underwater is still strong at two to four knots and so we can’t use ROV (Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle) or search with divers.”
The Washington Post reports USS Fort Worth sailors started using the tow fish sonar system on Jan. 4...
...from small 11-meter long rigid inflatable boats piloted by a mobile diving and salvage unit...
The Tow Fish, shaped like a torpedo, is designed to map the bottom of the ocean, which should help determine where wreckage from the airliner is.
Christopher Harmer, a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, explained to the Christian Science Monitor why the Indonesian-led search for AirAsia Flight 8501 is dependent on the United States military:
“Because the US Navy does so much open ocean searching, we have much better modeling systems of what debris fields will do in the open ocean.
“The US Navy is built as a war-fighting organization, but it’s very easy to repurpose into a humanitarian effort.
“This builds good will – and in addition to that, it’s in everybody’s best interest to find out what happened.”