Deep Water Hampers Robotic Sub’s Search Of Ocean Floor

PERTH, Australia (April 15, 2014) The first mission of the robotic submarine being used in the search for a missing Malaysian jet was cut short.

The U.S. Navy and search coordinators say a built-in safety feature aborted what was supposed to have been a 16-hour mission to create a sonar map of the ocean floor after only six hours.

The Bluefin 21 is programmed to hover 100 feet above the seabed, creating a three-dimensional sonar map, but the sub entered an area that was deeper than its maximum depth of 15,000 feet and automatically headed back to the surface.

Officials say it was not damaged.

The Navy says the data the Bluefin managed to collect have been analyzed and shows no sign of the missing plane.

Crews are shifting the Bluefin's search area away from the deepest water and hope to send it back on another mission later today.

Meanwhile, a sample from an oil slick about 3 and a-half miles from the area where the last underwater sounds were detected is being analyzed.

Search officials say it does not appear to be from any of the ships in the area, but caution against jumping to conclusions about its source.

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