There was no treasure chest, there was no Black Pearl, no Jack Sparrow and no MH370 – yet.
What was there were two geological formations that had been designated as points of interest.
The Ocean Infinity-leased Seabed Constructor, the high-tech vessel searching for MH370, had returned to check out the points of interest, discovered on its first sweep and elected to turn off its satellite tracking system so as not to give the relatives false hopes.
The idea was to try and prevent wild speculation that it had found the plane.
“As highlighted in the weekly report, there were a couple of points of interest identified last week,” an Ocean Infinity spokesman said. ” These turned out to be of no significance.”
“Ocean Infinity did not want to give the impression they had found the wreckage.”
What happened was exactly the opposite with bizarre stories, laced for good measure with a treasure chest.
A source in London tells AirlineRatings that the “treasure chest” was a throw-away joke from Fugro’s Paul Kennedy, the former search head.
“‘PK’ made some flippant, closing remarks during his presentation at the WA SSSI 2015 conference several years ago in Perth and this was picked up and became speculation that spread across the internet like wildfire,” the source said.
The Seabed Constructor left the search area February 4 and arrived at Henderson yesterday. It will head out to sea on February 12 to resume the search.
The MH370 Response Team said 7500 sq. km of the 25,000 sq, km identified in the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s final report on the original search had been swept by the time the ship departed.
The Seabed Constructor began the search January 21 and uses eight Hugin autonomous underwater vehicles to scour the seabed.
Ocean Infinity has a “no find, no fee” deal with the Malaysian government.
This sees it paid $US20 million if the debris is found in the 5000 sq. km primary search area, $US30in the 10,000 sq, km secondary zone and $US50 in the 10,000 sq, km tertiary area.
The three zones make up the 25,000 sq.m area defined by the ATSB and other experts.
OI will get $US70if it locates the wreckage in outside that 25,000 sq, km zone and a number of experts have suggested this is where it is.
The University of Western Australia’s Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi said last year that its reverse drift modelling put the location of MH370 “at Longitude 96.5° E Latitude 32.5° S with a 40km radius.”
Some members of the global “Independent Group” of experts believe it may be even further north and a map on the Malaysian update identifies two “site extensions”, one of which ranges north of 29° S.
The Ocean Infinity search will cover all areas.