USS Kidd joins search for Malaysian airliner, passengers

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2014 – The U.S. Navy vessel USS Kidd has moved to replace USS Pinckney as the United States continues to aid in the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared March 8 shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, bound for Beijing, a Defense Department spokesman told Pentagon reporters here today.

“At Malaysia’s request, the USS Kidd is north of the Strait of Malacca, in what we are calling the western search area,” Army Col. Steven Warren said.

“The western search area is a large swath of water that includes the Andaman Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the northern portion of the Indian Ocean,” he explained. “So it’s a very large search area.”

The USS Pinckney is en route to Singapore for scheduled maintenance, Warren said. A Navy P-3 Orion reported nothing found after a search in the Gulf of Thailand, he added.

“Additionally, there’s a P-8A Poseidon on station now, which is there to replace the P-3,” Warren said. “The P-8 will be searching the Bay of Bengal. The P-8A Poseidon is a long-range maritime patrol capability. The P-8A will provide more capability while focusing on worldwide responsiveness and interoperability. [The] nine-person crew will operate state-of-the-art sensors.”

The P-8A arrived at Kadena Air Base, Japan, in December, Warren noted, as part of the Defense Department’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.

“We believe [the USS Kidd] will be searching in the Andaman Sea, and into the Bay of Bengal,” Warren said, at the edge of the western search area. The P-8A Poseidon will search a much larger search area, he added: the southern portion of the Bay of Bengal and the northern portion of the Indian Ocean.

“We’re very excited about the P-8A, because it’s got tremendously increased capabilities,” he said.

(Follow Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallAFPS)