Navy equipment normally used to seek out floating mines is now being used in the search for two people missing from the tragedy at Paritutu.
Police dive supervisor Bevan Sheffield-Cranstoun said yesterday the navy's Mine Counter Measures Team (MCMT) would employe hi-tech sonar equipment to search large areas of the seabed out from Paritutu, but found nothing.
"We used a device called Remus (Remote Environmental Monitoring Unit) to cover a search area approximately 700 by 800 metres."
He said the Remus, which resembles a torpedo and is worth about $800,000, could search much faster than diving teams.
"For the area we've searched today, it would take a team of four to five divers three to four days to cover."
Today the team will get back on the water and go beyond where they searched yesterday.
The MCMT's usual mission was to find underwater mines laid outside New Zealand ports in times of conflict, but it was called to help with civilian matters like search and rescue once a month on average, Royal New Zealand Navy Lieutenant Commander Deane Ingram said.
Remus is programmed onshore and then is sent off on its own, monitored by a nearby boat through an underwater telephone system.
"If there's a body in the area that has been searched, then hand on my heart, I'm 99.99999 per cent sure we will find it, but if there's currents pushing the body away then we can't," Lieutenant Commander Ingram said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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