Deep-sea research vessel to search downed Turkish plane
Exploration vessel Nautilus was expected to set sail on Friday to Eastern Mediterranean to join search and rescue efforts to find a Syrian-downed Turkish military plane.
The 64-meter deep-sea research vessel, which is currently based in Bodrum, Turkey, is expected to arrive in the area in two days to contribute to efforts to locate the wreckage of the Turkish RF4 reconnaissance plane which was shot down by Syria in international airspace last Friday.
The Nautilus is equipped with remote controlled vehicles (Hercules, Argus, Diana and Echo) that can descend to depths up to 4,000 meters.
The vehicles house an array of cameras and acoustic sensors that are used to gather video and other data during each dive.
In a statement yesterday, the Turkish General Staff said two pilots and the wreckage of a Turkish plane were still missing.
The General Staff said search and rescue teams had swept an area of over 1,600 square sea miles only to recover pieces of military equipment pilots used and chunks of the downed RF4 military reconnaissance plane.
The statement said the search and rescue efforts were still underway and they deployed a frigate, a gunboat, a patrol boat, two coast guard boats, a plane and four helicopters as well as a hydrographic vessel with the Turkish Naval Forces.
The statement also said the search zone had an average depth of 1,260 meters.
The unarmed Turkish plane was shot down by Syria while on a training and test mission after unintentionally strayed into Syrian airspace before it was quickly warned by Turkish authorities to leave.
The incident has drawn widespread condemnation amid the continuing violence in Syria.
Turkey said the Syrian act constituted a violation of international law and that Ankara would take "every necessary measure."
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said rules of military engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces had been revised in the face of the incident, adding, "any Syrian military element approaching the Turkish border fromSyria will be considered as a military threat and dealt with accordingly."