USS Kidd Joins Search Effort for Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Image: USS Kidd Joins Search Effort for Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Friday, 14 Mar 2014 11:54 AM

By Michael Mullins

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The USS Kidd has been dispatched to the Indian Ocean to join the USS Pinckney in the ongoing, massive search effort for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam early Saturday morning nearly a week ago.

Both San Diego-based missile-guiding destroyers were diverted from a training mission in the South China Sea, The Washington Times noted.

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"Kidd's ability to respond so quickly is a testament to the importance of the U.S. Navy's presence in this vital region," Lt. Cmdr. Eli Marshall, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 78's air detachment officer in charge, said in a news release on the Navy website. "Our combination of rescue swimmer training, sensor capabilities, and search and rescue mission expertise allows us to be one of the most capable and flexible platforms to respond."

"The entire USS KIDD crew is dedicated to this operation," Cmdr. Gabe Varela, Kidd's commanding officer, added in the release. "If our families were on that flight, we would hope others would do the same. It is just fortunate we were already operating in the South China Sea, allowing us to get on station in a timely manner."

The USS Kidd, much like its sister ship the USS Pinckney, is equipped with two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, which, according to the Navy's website, "are designed for search and rescue (having) a maximum range of 245 nautical miles and the capability to conduct searches at night using its Forward Looking Infra-red camera."

As of Thursday, there were 62 destroyers in the region searching for the missing Boeing 777, according to AsiaOne.com. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, and Thailand have also taken active roles in the search.

The Boeing 777 airliner had 239 people aboard, 227 passengers and 12 crew members, when it mysteriously disappeared on Saturday.

Of the 227 passengers, three were Americans, and two were reportedly children. There were 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, and four French people. The remainder of the passengers on the flight were reportedly Chinese nationals.

No distress signal was sent from the missing 777, which experts say suggests a sudden catastrophic failure or explosion.

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Another mystery surrounding the missing flight is the plane's transponder — a radio transmitter in the cockpit that emits an identifying signal providing the aircraft's location, which was either turned off or disabled prior to it disappearing from radar.

On Tuesday, CIA Chief John Brennan told the Council on Foreign Relations that terrorism could not be ruled out.

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