CHENNAI: A group of geologists from India’s coastal cities would guide the Geological Survey of India’s (GSI) research vessel Samudra Ratnakar in its underwater search for the missing AN 32 aircraft. The ship, which reached Chennai Port on Friday morning for bunkering, will begin the operation on Sunday night or Monday morning.
Sources told Express that nine experts from the GSI, based out of Visakhapatnam, Kolkata, Kochi, Mangalore and Chennai, will board the ship on Saturday morning. The team will be led by G Nagendran from Chennai. Once the ship is loaded with fuel and provisions to last about a month, it would leave for the operation.
RV Samudra Ratnakar, the oceanographic research vessel built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) at its Ulsan shipyard in South Korea, which was dedicated to the nation in 2013, has more sophisticated equipment than Sagarnidhi, the research vessel belonging to the National Institute of Ocean Technology.
It is fitted with highly advanced technology like deep-water and shallow-water multi-beam survey systems, a sub-bottom profiling system to map marine sediment layers and a single-streamer multi-channel seismic system.
It also has a single-beam echo sounder, side scan sonar, conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) system, synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) system and underwater cameras, which could be used to map the sea for the missing aircraft.
Coast Guard sources confirmed that the search would begin in the next couple of days, while those from the GSI said weather would play a key factor in undertaking the operation.
Sagarnidhi, sources said, is expected to join the operation on Sunday night. Currently, a surface search for the aircraft is being undertaken on a stretch of 1,800 kilometres.