The news of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 potential turnaround baffled search and rescue teams from several countries Tuesday, including the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet.
"Two days ago the Malaysians asked us to search that area — we searched 9,000 square miles of it, and didn't find anything," said Cmdr. William Marks, public affairs officer for the 7th Fleet. "And that is one of the most heavily traveled waterways in the entire world."
If the Boeing-7772R had made the roughly 160-degree turn and traveled nearly 250 miles off course after its transponder stopped transmitting, the plane would have entered Thai or Malaysian airspace and potentially crossed into the Straight of Malacca.
The 550-mile Malacca Strait links Asia with the Middle East and Europe, carrying about 40 percent of the world's trade. More than 50,000 merchant ships traverse that waterway every year, according to Reuters.
If thousands of north and southbound ships were in the strait in the hours following the potential crash, it's hard to imagine the plane's wreckage could go completely unnoticed.
Adding an even more confusing twist, late Tuesday Malaysian Air Force Gen. Tan Sri Rodzali Daud, chief of Malaysia's air force, told reporters he did not report that flight 370 crossed military radar.
"I wish to state that I did not make any such statements," Daud said, according to Reuters and the AFP.
The Malaysian air force general was quoted heavily Tuesday via Malaysia's Berita Harian newspaper, saying military radars had spotted the flight at roughly 2:40 a.m. Saturday — about an hour after it went off the grid — breathing new hope and confusion into the massive search for the missing jetliner.
The 7th Fleet said Wednesday there were no significant activities to report. Overall, 42 ships and 39 aircraft from 12 countries have searched 11,000 square miles in both the Gulf of Thailand and Strait of Malacca, according to the U.S. Navy.
Marks told TheBlaze that the P-3 Orion and the SH-60R Seahawk are just two American assets used in the efforts; the P-3's radar looks down into the water and can detect materials that are no bigger than a basketball and the Seahawk’s Forward Looking Infrared Radar gives the helicopter crew the ability to search at night.
Indonesian Air Force officers examine a map of the Malacca Strait during a briefing following a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, at Suwondo air base in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. Malaysia asked India to join the expanding search for the missing jetliner near the Andaman Sea, far to the northwest of its last reported position and a further sign Wednesday that authorities have no idea where the plane might be more than four days after it vanished. (AP/Binsar Bakkara)
The Malaysian transport minister gave an update Wednesday morning, explaining that the rescue efforts would not slow down, saying "we will never give up hope, this we owe to the families.”
Watch the update here:
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