The Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) have reported a fault in the transponder mounted on the search vessel ADV Ocean Shield and believe a fault may also be present in the transponder aboard the US Navy Bluefin-21 submersible.

JACC said, “Examination of the communications problem has established that a hardware defect exists in the transponder mounted on the Ocean Shield and that a defect may also exist in the transponder mounted on the Bluefin-21. This inhibits the ability of the two devices to communicate with each other.”

Spares are being flown out from the UK and are due to arrive in Australia on Sunday and be installed on Ocean Shield which is steaming towards Dampier, Western Australia where she will dock for the repairs to be made.

A renewed search for the Boeing 777 in what is now believed to be the right area of the deep and largely unmapped floor of the Indian Ocean will plumb depths of over 4500m.

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