Searching for MH370

We hesitate these days to link to CNN for pretty much anything having to do with missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 after the sorry spectacle the network made of itself during the height of the searches, but has an interesting story about the prospective next step. reports that there is a possibility, though it may be remote, that sound sensors might have picked up the impact of the flight hitting the ocean.

This isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem.

Way back in the 1960s, US Navy sensors, designed to listen for Soviet submarines, were used to help locate the USS Scorpion, a nuclear attack sub that disappeared on its way home from the Mediterranean. Only when the boat was overdue did the Navy raise the alarm.

The search for the Scorpion is described in the book, Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage (1998). The submarine’s last moments were faintly heard on SOSUS noise detectors thousands of miles away. (Some believe the sub was sunk by a Soviet submarine. Blind Man’s Bluff outlines the investigation which concluded a torpedo malfunctioned inside the sub, breaching the hull and ultimately causing the sub to sink below crush depth. The implosion was what was heard on the SOSUS network. We are friends with a Rear Admiral (Ret.), who was in the submarine service as a skipper/executive officer at the time who supports the torpedo explanation.)

If there is anything to the story, considering that science and equipment is far advanced vs the 1960s, perhaps there is some hope to pinpoint that impact of MH370 to within a reasonable perimeter.

11 Comments on “Searching for MH370

  1. Those sound sensors are strategically placed by the US Navy where they believe they are most effective in the detection of “large underwater vehicles”. As such, it seems unlikely that they would be in the South Indian Ocean. (Cause there’s no reason for anybody to be in there in the first place).

    In addition, those sensors are really tuned to underwater bubbles created from the wake of submarine propellers and the subsequent popping of those bubbles. They are not made to listen to the impact on surface water. Another thing to keep in mind, the algorithms used to detect submarines are also tailored for the exact purpose of submarine movements.

    IMHO, another CNN article busted.

  2. I agree, the noises detected by the CTBTO should be investigated. But its data should be viewed with some caution.

  3. Already on some blogs (pprune) the underwater sound pickup has been dismissed apparently by the ‘ closest’ sites. One reason seems to be the usually missed FACCT that while low freq sound can be picked up for hundreds/thousands of miles, ( eg implosion/breakup), not true for higher freq. And BEFORE someone jumps in and bloviates about the ‘ pressure” breakup of an airplane – THIMK !

    A submarine implodes cause it is designed with many watertight bulkheads/doors( hatches) and to resist external pressure- that is lower pressure inside than outside. OTOH an airplane is designed just the opposite- higher pressure inside than outside .

    It is unlikely that when the plane ditched ( even if improbable without damage ), over a few days, most parts would fill with water, and slowly sink. Even if airbubbles remained, the plastic windows would probably cave in first, the airwould compress,possibly heat up, and escape, causing the pressure inside and outside to equalize. Thus, even if ‘ intact’ the plane and parts would sink and with undersea currents maybe drift before hitting bottom. Thus the plane – cabin – wings, tanks, and bodies would not implode or be significantly crushed by the water depth.

    At any rate – even CNN will have problems now keeping it on top burner for several months with zip but speculation.

    No doubt we can expect several movies, books, and even more outrageous theories with black holes, time warps, ailens, area 51, 911 truthers, boeing conspiracies, ashcanistan landings, diego garcia – and more. ARRRRGGH

    The confusion re black box pings certainly doesn’t help either.

  4. I have a signed copy of Blind Man’s Bluff, a really good book. I was told to read it to understand some of the things in my job that they couldn’t talk about. In it they discussed the detection of the splash from a Soviet test warhead hitting the water. They would then go recover it from the seafloor. But to hear these and be able to pinpoint the location there must be bouys within the basin as those say on the far side of a submerged mountain range will get a distorted signal as the range will act as a lens.

    I believe that had our DOD recorded the pretty loud splash of the plane impacting the water (even a plane touching down on a runway makes a LOT of noise) as engines are sheared off, etc. they would have sanitized the info but quietly indicated where to look early on along with a cover story to hide the source. That would have been within days, not months.

  5. I found it interesting that, when most of the debris fields were being ‘discovered’ in the south, despite this, they chose to shift the entire search northwards in the Indian Ocean based on the theory that the aircraft was going faster than they thought (and burnt it’s fuel off). To my mind there was some evidence already of the use underwater sonar.

  6. Debris was found, none of it was aircraft. Lots of junk floating out there.

    Satellite ping data if its any good put the probable area much further North eventually.

    I agree with the previous comments. No SOSUS system in that part of the world.

    As there was no ELT, extremely unlikely it ditched or was in a ditching attitude (that would have set off one or both of them).

    THe only things to implode would be small pressure vessels. Hydraulics tanks, air tanks etc. None of that was reported from AF447 which was closer to the old SOSUS network in the North Atlantic.

    CNN wants to eeek it out for the ratings.

  7. I was amazed that when Inmarsat released their Faux Raw Data that no one jumped them for it. Instead, Inmarsat claims that they need the permission of the Malaysian Government to release all the Raw Data and their methodology for precessing this data and coming to a conclusion (i.e., the Model). Yeah….Right!

    I call BS. I’ve been modeling long enough to know when models and data are kept secret, BS is always the result. Usually, instead of claiming that a Government Law won’t allow the release of data and model, the most frequent excuse I hear is “Company Proprietary” and “Trade Secret”…. followed by “TRUST ME’ and then a Royal Screwing.

    Again…I am amazed.

    • Suggest you are not familar with agreed on conventions between countries. And could you explain to us unwashed types just what is false re data from iNmarsat ?

      • Don,

        I don’t have to show anything about the whether the data and analysis is right or wrong: that is Inmarsat’s responsibility for they claim have knowledge. If anyone claims that it is anyone else’s responsibility to explain why the data is wrong, may I refer them to the Logical Fallacy of the Argument From Ignorance or the Non-Testable Hypothesis?

        Inmarsat has claimed that their Data and Model predict an accurate track – so let them show how they did it. Otherwise, I won’t believe anything they say and I’ll call BS until a full disclosure is made. And by BS, I mean that realm where neither truth or falsity matter, because the truth or falsity of the argument is unknowable. Or…as the late Wolfgang Pauli would say about such an analysis….”It’s not even wrong!”

        Instead, we have a situation where no Model is Released and Inmarsat claims the Data released “would not be enough for independent researchers to replicate the calculations.” (

        • 1) Why would Inmarsat go out on a limb with false or knowing deliberate fudging?
          2) It seems you fully discount the Inmarsat press release and explanations- why ?

          Following discussions with Inmarsat and under the instruction of Malaysia’s Acting Minister of Transport, Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has released the data communication logs relating to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, as well as the relevant explanation to enable the reader to understand the data provided.

          Link to press statement and data logs on Malaysia DCA website:

          Please also refer to ATSB “Considerations on defining the search area – MH370” for further information on Burst Timing Offset and Burst Frequency Offset.

          For more information, please contact:

          3) following your line of thought- then why doesn’t Boeing also release all of their test and analysis data and 777 related information, along with the various government agencies ? ( Suggest you look up international agreements involved )

          4) There are other agencies in U.S and England and malaysia- do you expect all of them plus outside to Inmarsat consultants and experts to also release their analysis to the public ? Who pays the bills ?

          In short -IMO while the malaysian government has serious commo problems- perhaps by culture- to extend that to a ‘ half dozen’ other countries and agencies and the military and ?? is an exercise in banging ones head against a wall which even if you had all the data would not advance the issue – but be great fodder for CNN. and npr ..

          NUFF – I’ll wait until August-Sept when the search resumes.

  8. There’s nothing really mysterious about what happened to MH370. There does exist a very apparent technical explanation with ample precedent (albeit requiring some interpretation of logical developments). It was a simple technical accident with nothing nefarious whatsoever.

    See: Executive Summary at:

    and main document at:

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