Q. & A.: Cmdr. William Marks of the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet on the Search for the Malaysian JetBy CHRIS BUCKLEY AND MICHAEL FORSYTHE
Two United States Navy guided-missile destroyers, the Pinckney and Kidd, are among the dozens of ships searching for the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared while flying from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing. The Pinckney has been searching since Sunday, sending out a helicopter that has been scanning the sea for signs of the missing plane and any survivors. A United States Navy P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft has also been participating in the search, flying out from Subang Jaya, Malaysia. The Kidd joined the hunt on Monday.
Cmdr. William Marks, the spokesman for the United States Navy Seventh Fleet, which includes the Pinckney and Kidd, explained the search-and-rescue effort in telephone interviews on Monday. He spoke from the fleet’s command ship, the Blue Ridge, which is in the South China Sea. Following are edited excerpts:
How difficult is this search-and-rescue effort?
You have a point where you had communication, but you have another point where you had a radar contact. So where do you put this dot in the Gulf of Thailand? And then being 48 hours away, that search box gets bigger and bigger as every hour passes. It is a very difficult, very challenging puzzle that we’re trying to solve.
It’s much, much more different and complex than other cases. For example, let’s say a plane goes down. If you had solid radar coverage and you track it all the way down and you see its altitude fall, fall, fall – you pretty much know exactly where it is.
It’s very challenging. Look at the geography. At first we thought it was closer to Vietnam, just off the coast of Vietnam. So in this Gulf of Thailand region, you have Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and then it circles down to Malaysia. And this area essentially covers almost a central point right in the middle of that Gulf of Thailand. And then add to that, I’m now hearing reports that the plane may have turned around. So we are now looking at this area in the northern part of the Strait of Malacca, in case it turned around.
This is a very large area. We are talking hundreds of square kilometers. The good news is it’s an international effort – there are a lot of assets down there. The country of Malaysia is in the lead. They’re the lead organization, and they’re doing a terrific job of organizing all this. The last information I had, had about 40 different ships here, and over 30 aircraft.
Who organizes and coordinates the search-and-rescue effort?
This is all coordinated by the Malaysian government. They coordinate both the water-space and the airspace management. I give them a lot of credit. They have done what I would call an exceptional job. It’s like a big chessboard out there. It’s really like moving chess pieces around, and that’s 3-D. You have three dimensions, you have the water-space and the airspace.
If you don’t do a good job of it, there is a very real possibility of an accident. I give a lot of credit to the Malaysian government. They have a very well-organized plan. They track all these assets coming in from all these countries, they make assignments, and they’re very efficient, very professional.
How much longer could the search last?
The way that we in the Navy look at this is that for the first 72 hours, we consider it still a search mission for survivors. Survivors have been known to make it at least that long, so from our perspective, we still hold out a little bit of optimism for survivors. That’s for that first 72-hour period. After that, it’s at the decision of the Malaysian government what they want us to do, and where they want us to be.
How many of the crew are out looking at any point, and how do they do it?
We rotate our helicopter crew so that they’re always fresh. They go up about three and a half hours at a time. The P-3, they have that one long stretch of just one long flight. But it’s really not the number of people, because eyeballs are not the greatest optical sensor. The P-3 has a very complex radar that looks down. We can see something the size of a basketball or soccer ball — if that’s floating in the water, we can pick that up on our radar. The helicopter also has the ability to fly at night, and they have a forward-looking infrared [camera] — we call that FLIR.
Chen Jiehao contributed research.
The New York Times telah menyiarkan temuramah media dengan Cmdr. William Marks, jurucakap untuk armada ketujuh Tentera Laut Amerika Syarikat termasuk Pinckney dan Kidd tentang usaha mencari pesawat MH 370.
Q. Who organizes and coordinates the search-and-rescue effort?
A. This is all coordinated by the Malaysian government. They coordinate both the water-space and the airspace management. I give them a lot of credit.
They have done what I would call an exceptional job. It’s like a big chessboard out there. It’s really like moving chess pieces around, and that’s 3-D. You have three dimensions, you have the water-space and the airspace.
If you don’t do a good job of it, there is a very real possibility of an accident. I give a lot of credit to the Malaysian government. They have a very well-organized plan.
They track all these assets coming in from all these countries, they make assignments, and they’re very efficient, very professional.moreDi bawah adalah terjemahan kenyataan Cmdr. William Marks untuk kepimpinan pembangkang dan mereka yang masih dungu dan terlalu bodoh kerana masih mahu memperlekehkan kemampuan Malaysia :
Ini semua diselaraskan oleh kerajaan Malaysia. Mereka menyelaras kedua-dua ruang air dan pengurusan ruang udara. Saya memberi banyak kredit kepada mereka.
Mereka telah melakukan apa yang saya panggil satu kerja yang luar biasa. Ia seperti papan catur besar di luar sana. Ia benar-benar seperti kepingan catur yang bergerak merata dan ianya 3-D. Anda mempunyai tiga dimensi, anda mempunyai ruang air dan ruang udara.
Jika anda tidak melakukan kerja itu dengan baik, kemungkinan besar yang berlaku kemalangan. Saya memberi banyak kredit kepada kerajaan Malaysia. Mereka mempunyai rancangan yang sangat teratur.
Mereka menjejaki semua aset-aset ini datang dari semua negara-negara ini, mereka membuat tugasan dan mereka sangat cekap, sangat profesional.
AMUKANMELAYU - Adakah OBAMA akan menangguh lagi lawatannya ke Malaysia?