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Naval Submarine, NIOT vessel to join search for Coast Guard Plane

PTI 12 Jun 2015, 8:02:57 AM IST

Chennai:  Two more naval ships and a National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) vessel are set to join the massive operation to locate the missing Coast Guard Dornier aircraft which continued without any headway for the third day on thursday.

Naval submarine INS Sindhudhwaj and survey Ship INS Sandhayak fitted with sonar equipment will arrive shortly to aid search operations for the missing CG plane and its three crew members, a top official said.

"While the submarine is expected to arrive tomorrow late night, the other ship (Sandhayak) with side scan sonar will join our search efforts midnight today," Inspector General S P Sharma, Commander, Coast Guard (East), Chennai, told PTI.

"We have requisitioned the services of a NIOT research vessel to join the search operations and it will be arriving at the search area as soon as possible," he said.

Besides, agencies including the ISRO's Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) and Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Service are pitching in to help locate the aircraft which went off the radar at 9.23 PM on Monday during a routine surveillance mission along the state coast and Palk Bay after it took off from the Chennai station.

Meanwhile, 15 ships of both the Coast Guard and Navy continued their search operations along the coastline of Karaikal-Puducherry region, where the aircraft is suspected to have disappeared.

Also, a helicopter and four Dornier aircraft of the Coast Guard of Chennai base undertook several sorties along the coastline.

"The mangroves of Pitchavaram in Chidambaram region were also thoroughly checked today with the help of paramotors, paragliders of the Coastal Security Group," he added.

The Coast Security Group of state police stepped up its patrol along the coastline and engaged scuba divers at select locations.

The test results of oil spill found during search yesterday revealed that the samples "had no traces of oil but only sea water," Mr Sharma said.

"If the sample had tested positive for aviation fuel that would have helped," he said. An IOC lab in Chennai had done the test to find out if the sample had traces of aviation fuel.

Mr Sharma said he has directed all the patrol coast guard ships have been directed to look for any oil spill in the sea.Meanwhile, a Defence Ministry press release said intense and sustained efforts to search and locate the missing aircraft are continuing round the clock in areas of probability since Monday night.

"More than 60 hours of air search has been undertaken by the Coast Guard Dornier and the IN long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft P81. The search area is also being re appreciated after analysing the reports received from the search units," the release added.