Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been missing for more than two months and until now no trace of the Boeing 777 jet that had 239 passengers and crew on board could be found.
On Thursday, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) disclosed that it has discovered a defect in the transponder on Ocean Shield. The centre added that another transponder on the U.S. Navy Bluefin-21 submersible could also be defective.
These discoveries hint of the possible reason why the search has yielded zero results.
The centre said in a statement, "Examination of the communications problem has established that a hardware defect exists in the transponder mounted on the Ocean Shield and that a defect may also exist in the transponder mounted on the Bluefin-21."
The similar defects prevents the two devices from communicating with each other, the JACC said, although it did not state for how long has the transponder mounted on the Ocean Shield been faulty. The transponder detected in April signals consistent with black boxes in planes.
According to CNN, the Bluefin-21 and transponder were damaged just this week as the vehicle was being hoisted onto the deck of Ocean Shield. The vehicle hit the navigational transponder located on the side of the Australian naval vessel, said Michael Dean, deputy director of ocean engineering of the U.S. Navy.
Damaged by the collision were the Bluefin's propeller, trail section and rear electronics bay, while the Ocean Shield transponder suffered internal damage.
He added that repairs were done, but subsequent tests showed a malfunction on the acoustic communication link between the Bluefin-21 and the Ocean Shield's transponder.
The JACC said spare parts for the defective transponders have been shipped from the UK and are expected to arrive in Australia on Sunday. Since the Ocean Shield must sail to Dampier Port in Western Australia to get the replacement part, the journey will take 4 to 5 days but may be longer if the Australian ship has to return to port.