Royal Navy survey vessel HMS Echo continues search for MH370

Echo was launched at Appledore Shipbuilders, Bideford on 4 March 2002 and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 13 March 2003. Lead vessel in her class (HMS Enterprise is Echo’s sister ship), she was designed to carry out a wide range of survey work, including support to submarine and amphibious operations, through the collection of oceanographic and bathymetric (analysis of the ocean, its salinity and sound profile) data.

The search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

On 20 March, 2014, Echo was operating in the Persian Gulf, midway through an 18-month hydrographic surveying deployment, when she was tasked to assist the Royal Australian Navy search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in a sector of the Indian Ocean 2,400 km (1,295 nmi) southwest of Perth, Australia.

Echo’s Commanding Officer Commander Phillip Newell said his 60 men and women were giving the search their all. “My ship’s company are working 24/7 to find MH370. They are young, bright and enthusiastic and will step up to every challenge in the search for the missing aircraft. I am immensely proud of them.”

The Australian govt is overseeing search operations from its newly created Joint Agency Coordination Centre. Eight countries are involved in the search.

Royal Navy survey ship HMS Echo (H87) and Royal Australian Air Force P-3C Orion aircraft in search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. Photo: Crown copyright, 2014.

HMS Echo (H87) Royal Navy hydrographic survey ship. Photo: Crown copyright, 2013.

On the bridge of HMS Echo (H87), Royal Navy hydrographic survey ship. Photo: Moshi Anahory, 2012.

HMS Echo (H87), 2012. Photo: SAC Dave Vine , Crown copyright.

HMS Echo conducts hydrographic training with Libyan Navy

HMS Echo (H87) is a hydrographic and oceanographic survey ship built by Appledore and commissioned into the Royal Navy in 2003. In addition to her survey rôle, Echo is equipped to support support mine warfare and amphibious operations.

UK Warship helping Navy chart Libyan waters arrives in Tripoli

HMS Echo has been stationed in Libyan waters for a fortnight, on a training and survey operation with the Libyan Navy (Photo: Tom Westcott, Libya Herald)

Tripoli, 5 July 2013:British warship HMS Echo docked in Tripoli yesterday, after spending a fortnight training members of the Libyan Navy in modern underwater surveying methods.

Seventeen members of the Libyan Navy’s hydrographic department, including three senior officers, have had hands-on experience using the ship’s state-of-the-art sonar surveying methods.

HMS Echo, a vessel designed to collect data for both military and civilian use, has been recording and charting deep waters off the coast of Al Khoms and Tripoli. In shallower waters, Echo’s smaller survey launch has been taking detailed oceanographic data from inside the two ports.

Using sonar, the surveys have been recording depths and identifying obstacles that have not previously been charted. The Port of Khoms has never been surveyed before and the information held for Tripoli Port is not up-to-date.

“The survey is very useful for the Libyan Navy,” officer Fathi Salheen told the Libya Herald, “especially the depths of water in the ports because this is useful for any vessels hoping to berth in either port.”

Salheen said the training has been very beneficial. He added that it had been particularly good to see modern equipment and technologies in use and learn correct procedures.

Working with the Libyan Navy had also been excellent training for the UK crew, Echo’s Commander Matt Syrett told the Libya Herald. “This has been very interesting for us,” he said, “because we are usually working with existing charts.”

There is no complete chart of Libya’s territorial waters and the information currently held by the navy was mostly collected in the 1980s, and is incomplete. HMS Echo’s surveying will leave the Libyan Navy with a complete and detailed survey charting 283 square kilometres of territorial waters.