Ocean Infinity in $70m gamble to locate missing MH370 aircraft

Houston-based Ocean Infinity stands to make up to $70m if it can track down the missing MH370 plane in the next three months under a deal thrashed out with the Malaysian government.

The American seabed exploration firm has chartered Swire Seabed’s subsea vessel Seabed Constructor to try and track down the wreckage of MH370, the Malaysian Airlines plane, which disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people onboard.

Malaysia’s transport minister Liow Tiong Lai detailed at a press conference the deal it has struck with Ocean Infinity.

Ocean Infinity will be paid $20m if the plane is found within 5,000 sq km of the targeted search area, $30m if it is found within 10,000 sq km and $50m if it is found within an area of 25,000 sq km. Beyond that area, Ocean Infinity will receive $70m, Liow said. However, if the ship fails to locate the plane the Malaysian government will not pay a cent.

“It was a unique problem that required a unique solution… We looked at it and said, ‘Let’s do something different than what other people would do,’ and that’s the essence of our business,” Oliver Plunkett, Ocean Infinity’s CEO told Reuters, while signing the deal with the Malaysian government in Kuala Lumpur.

Ocean Infinity will deploy a system that uses eight HUGIN autonomous underwater vehicles capable of operating at depths of up to 6 km to collect high-resolution data.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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