The search ship — Seabed Constructor, owned by Texas company Ocean Infinity — went “dark” to watching enthusiasts, after turning off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) for some 80 hours.
The disappearance sparked a frenzy of theories among MH370 watchers, with everything from clandestine treasure hunting to simple privacy concerns touted as explanations for the vessel going MIA.
The ship is in the middle of a three-month trawl for signs of the missing airliner in the Southern Indian Ocean. MH370 disappeared after taking off from Kuala Lumpur headed for Beijing in March 2014, with 239 people on board.
Ocean Infinity — which started its search on Jan. 22 — stands to make $70 million USD if it can spot the plane within 90 days, under terms drawn up with Malaysia’s government. The search vessel has a crew of 65 and contains eight submersible sea crafts which are used to scour the seabed.
But after 10 days at sea the vessel disappeared from view, only to re-emerge three days later, marked on vessel tracking sites as headed to the western Australian port city of Fremantle.
Giving updates on the search, the Malaysian government said by Tuesday the vessel had covered a search of some 7,500 square kilometres. Up to that stage it had noted two points of interest that were later discarded as insignificant rock patterns.
Yet no explanation has been given — either by the government of Malaysia or the exploration company — for the missing three days, and this has sparked an online mini-frenzy, both by experts and amateur detectives.