Captain outlines difficulties of searching vast Indian Ocean for missing Malaysia jet

Malaysian officials announced Tuesday that a satellite has captured images of 122 objects in the Indian Ocean that might be from the missing plane. The search for debris since the jet’s disappearance has proved difficult with high seas and rough weather. Crews are worried about the conditions they could face in the days ahead.

In an interview with Fox News’ Harris Faulkner, Captain Wesley Hill gave his perspective on the challenges of finding objects in the rough seas. Hill is an experienced navigator, who works with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. He is currently not involved in the multi-nation search.

Hill described the current situation facing searchers: “Even knowing where something is in the ocean is hard enough to find it and right now they are looking in a big area … they aren’t even sure what they’re looking for,” Hill said. “It’s a really, really difficult.”

Hill says even after military officials spot potential debris, the position of the objects can change at a moment’s notice.


“Seas are moving all the time … lots of wind … bad visibility and the days are getting shorter,” Hill said.  These factors are impacting how searchers make their runs over possible debris areas.

“You can be within a mile of something and it is still difficult to see from the bridge of a ship,” Hill said.

As winter approaches in the region, the weather will get worse. “The weather changes all the time,” Hill said.  “You can get 50-60 knot winds routinely for days on end and that could build the seas to 20-30 feet.”

As searchers look on the ocean floor they can expect a combination of mountain ranges and plains. Hill described it as looking “like the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains [underwater].”  The average depth of the ocean in the search area is 11,800 feet, with the deepest depth being 16,404 feet at certain points.

Watch the full interview above.