Peter Herzig, centre, and Klas Lackschewitz stand behind the German 'Abyss' Photo: Carsten Rehder/EPA
German and American oceanographers are planning to deploy the world's three unmanned "Abyss" type deep sea search submarines to track down the remains of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Der Spiegel magazine said scientists at the Helmholtz Oceanography Institute in the German port city of Kiel had arranged with their counterparts at the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Institute to deploy the three submarines which can dive to depths of 6,000 metres and stay submerged for up to 24 hours. "We have already agreed to launch a joint search with our American colleagues," said Peter Herzig, the director of the Helmholtz Institute. "With Sonar from three submarines we will be able to search a much bigger area."
Mr Herzig said that his team had just renewed the batteries on their "Abyss" and were checking the €1.5 million (£1.26m) submarine's engines and sensors in preparation for swift deployment. He said they were now simply waiting for wreckage of flight MH370 to be sighted.
Germany's Helmholtz Institute owns one of the 12-foot long "Abyss" submarines which is normally used for oceanographic research. America's Woods Hole Institute owns the other two.
In the spring of 2011, the three submarines were used successfully to track down the wreckage of the lost Air France flight 447 Airbus passenger plane which disappeared without trace over the Atlantic in 2009 with 228 passengers on board.
"If we can manage to narrow down the search area, I am optimistic about being able to find the wreck of the plane on the sea bed," Mr Herzig told Der Spiegel.
The Abyss submarine, which is equipped with special sensors, cameras and an ultra sensitive Sonar system, resembles a torpedo and is painted yellow to make it easier to identify. The submarine's comparatively small size means that it can be flown in for deployment.