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Searching the Ocean Floor; Bluefin-21 in Water; AIV Technology; Boston Marathon Anniversary Live Coverage

Aired April 15, 2014 - 12:30   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We're taking you live to the anniversary memorial of the bombings at the Boston marathon, a year ago today.

Right now, you're looking at and listening to the Reverend Liz Walker, very well known to the community. On the screen, you see Sean Collier, the officer who was killed in a shoot-out with the assailants after the bombings happened.

Three others lost their lives during it. As the reverend steps down, we're now going to hear remembrances for the three people taken by the bombings, Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu. You'll remember, Martin Richard was just a boy, Krystle Campbell, barely 30, 29-years-old, Lingzi Lu, exchange student.

We'll be taking you in and out of the high points, the mayor, the former mayor, the governor and the vice president.

Let's listen in here for a second, then we'll move on. You're hearing beautiful music this morning from the Boston Pops, part of the orchestra, and some special performances, also, like by Renese King. We'll keep take you back there as the moments are called for.

But we want to move on and give you some more news that's going on, especially with the search for Flight 370. As you know, everyone is pinning their hopes on finding the lost plane with a sophisticated piece of equipment that's been called the Bluefin-21.

But how does it work? How deep can it go? And what's the problem it's having right now?

CNN's Brian Todd show us this unmanned vehicle being deployed in the search for Flight 370 and its capabilities. Take a look.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Its manufacturer calls it the Bluefin- 21. It's technically known as an autonomous underwater vehicle, or AUV.

But for the people who run it, it's --


TODD: And, right now, it may be the best remaining hope for finding wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. We were given exclusive access behind the scenes at Phoenix International, the company which runs the Bluefin, to see just how it works.

While it may launch from the side of a search ship, the Bluefin is actually operated by remote control with help from a satellite, its job, not to listen for pings but to map the ocean floor and look for debris. To do that, it can use two different payloads, which have to be swapped out.

MOORE: This particular payload section is the acoustic section.

TODD: First, the Bluefin uses side-scan sonar and a multi-beam echo sounder, detectors that bounce sound waves off objects on the ocean floor that aren't natural.

If those are picked up, the Bluefin can then be brought to the surface. The sonar technology gets taken out and high-tech cameras are put in.

MOORE: It's a high-definition, black-and-white camera, capable of three frames per second.

TODD: Together, they can create a detailed mosaic of the ocean floor. The operators are confident, if wreckage from Flight 370 is down there, the Bluefin will find it.

MOORE: The technology on the AUV is good enough that we can resolve something that is as small as a microwave, perhaps even smaller.

TODD: But it's not an easy or fast process. It takes the vehicle two hours to dive to the bottom, 16 hours to search about a 15-square-mile section of the ocean floor, and two more hours to return to the surface. Then it takes another four hours to download and analyze the data collected.

That means just one mission of the Bluefin-21 takes at least 24 hours to complete, meaning the search could drag on.

DAVID KELLY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, BLUEFIN ROBOTICS: Given the size of the search area, that could take six, eight weeks, so it's a weeks and months type of problem to cover that amount of area.

TODD: If the Bluefin does find debris from the plane, this is the machine that can recover it, this remotely operated vehicle that can go very deep in the ocean with manipulator arms, can pick up all sorts of debris and a black box.

This one, the Remora 3, recovered the black box all of the undersea wreckage for Air France 447. But in that mission search teams had already found some debris and knew where to start looking. The search area in the Indian Ocean is much wider and more uncertain.

Brian Todd, CNN, Largo, Maryland. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: All right, so what we get from Brian's piece is it is an impressive piece of equipment, this Bluefin, but the task is just as great as the capabilities of the equipment, because it has never been mapped, this part of the ocean floor, before, so we have to expect some delays and problems.

We have to take a break right now. The bottom of that Indian Ocean is a mystery because, as I'm telling you, it is unmapped. We're going to take a look at that and explain it to you, coming up.


CUOMO: Now, as we know, search crews are desperately trying to find their way to the bottom of the Indian Ocean to look for the Malaysian airliner they believe went down there. The entire episode, as difficult as it is finding a plane, is actually offering explorers a chance to go somewhere in the deep ocean they've never been before.

So let's go there now with CNN's Jean Casarez.


ANGUS HOUSTON, JOINT AGENCY COORDINATION CHIEF: This is an area that is new to man.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With no ping since last Tuesday, the search heads straight down to the ocean floor with what is known as an AUV, the autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin -21, and to say this is new territory is putting it mildly.

HOUSTON: On the sort of imagery I've seen, it's not sharply mountainous or anything. It's more flat and almost rolling.

CASAREZ: Side-scan sonar will produce a high resolution three- dimensional map, while searchers are hoping to spot evidence of Flight 370. Oceanographers want to take this chance to learn as much as they can about this part of the ocean.

ARNOLD GORDON, PROFESSOR OF OCEANOGRAPHY: We know so little that we will learn something about the seafloor there, its morphology, the hills and valleys and how rough it is.

CASAREZ: Arnold Gordon is a professor of oceanography at Columbia University. On a personal note, do you find yourself glued to the television, reading articles?

GORDON: I'm really curious what they're going to find and the attention on this area is just fascinating, so, yes, I'm glued to the television and to the stories that are coming out about this.

CASAREZ: Oceanographers are onsite, offering their knowledge of the deep and potentially benefiting scientifically from a multimillion dollar operation with an unprecedented focus on an otherwise overlooked part of the ocean. GORDON: We're talking about millions of dollars to do this work. Obviously, if one wanted to do this from a scientific perspective, we would not get the funding.

CASAREZ: One potential obstacle for those looking for the plane, deep layers of silt at the bottom of the Indian ocean could yield valuable new information for oceanographers.

GORDON: You can learn where it came from, what's the source of the sediment in that area. You would learn something about the ocean bottom currents that move the sentiment around.

HOUSTON: We're actually gathering information about the search environment all of the time, and that's factored into the analysis.

CASAREZ: While so much about Flight 370 is shrouded in mystery, scientists hope to gain knowledge for the future.

Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.


CUOMO: So now we understand that while they're searching for the plane down there, there's other things they'll have to discover. We'll be giving you that as we follow it along ourselves.

Let's take a quick break. When we come back, we'll take you live to Boston.


CUOMO: All right, we're following the latest developments in the search for Flight 370. We want to get to Brian Todd. We have word that the search has resumed. There have been some weather issues, Brian, but now we're hearing they're back in the water with the submarine.

TODD: That's right, Chris.

I got an e-mail a short time ago from Jim Gibson, the general manager of Phoenix International. Phoenix is the company which owns and operates the Bluefin-21. Phoenix has nine operators aboard the Ocean Shield, which are running that vehicle. Jim Gibson, the general manager, told me a short time ago in an e-mail that they had to wait for some weather to pass but that the AUV, the Bluefin-21, is now back in the water.

As we know now, the Bluefin-21 had to abort its first mission overnight last night, actually late yesterday overnight into today our time, you know, on the East Coast, because it went to its calibrated depth at about 4,500 meters down, that's almost three miles down, and apparently tried to go a little bit further down. It noticed the ocean floor was at a greater depth, tried to go further down, and then its safety mechanisms kicked in automatically and automatically brought the vehicle back to the surface.

So it was only in the water for about seven and a half hours out of a possible 24 in that first deployment. But we are told by Phoenix International that the AUV, the Bluefin-21, is now back in the water and we hope to get some good news out of its search in that regard, Chris.

And what they did also tell me is that that first run was actually a pretty successful run. That it mapped a decent amount of the ocean floor. It did not find anything of note, but it did - it did - it was able to map a pretty decent swath of territory on the ocean floor.

CUOMO: And while that is frustrating, we have to remember, this is literally uncharted territory. So any mapping that's done is going to be helpful. They need the Bluefin, even though it can't go as deep as some other submersibles. They need it because it has sonar and the others do not. And when you can't see and they can't see at these depths, in these conditions, you need to have the sonar. So that's why they're using it.

Brian Todd, thank you very much. Appreciate that.

TODD: Sure thing.

CUOMO: We're going to take a quick break here on LEGAL VIEW. When we come back, we will take you to the coverage of the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.


CUOMO: OK. You are at the memorial for the one-year anniversary of the Boston bombing. That is former Mayor Thomas Menino just stepping down from the stage. No longer mayor, but will always be a big face of what Boston was in those days and weeks after the bombing. A true face of resilience. Got a huge ovation when he came up. We are now waiting for remarks by the survivors of the marathon bombing. The first one up should be Patrick Downes. Now he and his wife both lost a leg each in the bombing. And we're going to hear from him right now. Patrick Downes.

PATRICK DOWNES, BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING SURVIVOR: A year ago today, we chose to run towards smoke and danger. We chose to utilize our belts and purse straps to create tourniquets. We chose to hold the injured in our arms. We chose to offer our hearts to those in despair and our treasures to those in need. We chose to love and that has made all the difference.

In the days that followed, we continued to express profound love by sewing the threads of community. We made our city safe again, gave blood, performed and underwent countless surgeries and began the long journey of psychological and physical rehabilitation. Our hospitals showed why they are the best in the world, not only through their clinical expertise, but by their enormous capacity for compassion.

And while many of us here struggled to heal within those hospital walls, a moment coalesced throughout our city, state and country. Boston strong. A simple phrase with a not so simple meaning became our uniting call. It's symbolizes our communal determination to spread compassion, generosity, unity and pride. It is the firefighter running toward danger and the police officer ensuring our safety. But it's also the quiet moments, individual snapshots of grace. It's the countless hours our families spent by our bedsides, sometimes in silence, as they offered their love by their presence alone. It's a fellow survivor offering her hospital room to allow a married couple to reunite. It is a private visit from a wounded warrior telling us and showing us that we'll get better.

It is the movers volunteering their time to help the newly disabled transfer to a new home. It's the department store employee search for clothing to accommodate medical devices. It's the passerby who sees a prosthetic leg and nods in solidarity and strength. It's the ribbons proudly displayed on our cruisers, ladder trucks, buses and cars. And is certainly when a band of bearded brothers brings home a championship to a beloved ballpark and its fans.

We also have heroes within our families. A devoted brother who drove for hours on the day of the marathon with a caring friend to be by his brother's side and serve as his chief of staff. A loving sister who moved across the country to care for her family.

Parents stricken with fear and overwhelming sadness who found a way to spend day after day in hospitals with hopes of willing their children back to health. Extended family giving all they could to support those they love. And couples, both wed and unwed, who stayed by each other's sides through the emotional agony of watching someone you love suffer and the beauty of knowing that you'll get through this together. In sickness and in health. Never has that vow felt so tangible.

We would never wish the devastation and pain we have experienced on any of you. However, we do wish that all of you, at some point in your lives, feel as loved as we have felt over this last year. It has been the most humbling experience of our lives. We hope you feel all the emotion we feel when we say, thank you.

To our fellow survivor community, what would we do without each other? We should have never met this way, but we are so grateful for each other. We have shared our despair, sense of loss and challenges, as well as our hope, gratitude and triumphs. We have been there for each other and we will continue to be there, to pick each other up and celebrate milestones for years to come.

Most of all, we'll cherish the friendships our families have forged with bonds of mutual admiration. And to those who continue to struggle through despair, ongoing medical care and the prospect of heart- wrenching surgical decisions, don't forget for a second that we will be there for you at a moment's notice.

We will always remember our guardian angels. Lingzi, Sean, Krystle and Martin. Whether we raised them as our children, knew them for years, met them once or only knew them in spirit, we will carry them in our hearts. To their families, know that you will never be alone and that the city stands beside you. We remember those who died as pieces of us.

The intellectual charm of Lingzi, Sean's commitment to justice, Krystle's infectious smile and the childhood charm of Martin. We will choose to think of them not in association with hate, but forever connected to our commitment to peace. Peace. That would be their lasting message to us.

We all know when historians write about these events, they will tell of the utter devastation that has brought -- that was brought upon our families and how four guardian angels came to be. But I also hope that they will tell of the unfailing compassion and unity that followed. We no longer have to think philosophically about the capacity of the human spirit. It is right here in the city of Boston. Weather our families have been here for generations or recently called Boston home, we know that we have written another chapter in a rich history of revolutionary people and we take pride in knowing that we are part of something much larger than ourselves.

In this spirit, we choose this Marathon Monday to show the world what Boston represents through our deeds and dedications. For those of us who will ride and run, we will do so for those who are no longer with us, for a family member with cancer, for our great city, and for countless other causes. For those of us who will crowd the route, we will embrace roles as motivators and emotional catalysts. And for our guardian angels, let them hear us roar.