Search ship finds EgyptAir black box
November 5, 1999
NEWPORT, Rhode Island (CNN) -- One of the cockpit flight data recorders from EgyptAir Flight 990 was located Friday, but has not yet been retrieved from the ocean floor. It was located by a remote-controlled robot lowered from a Navy salvage ship into the Atlantic, sources told CNN.
Efforts are being made to bring the device to the surface.
As the recovery effort was going on, Muslims who lost family members in the crash prayed for their loved ones at an Islamic service on shore.
U.S. Navy Rear Adm. William Sutton earlier told CNN the sea appeared calm enough for the salvage vessel USS Grapple to deploy its remote-operated Deep Drone vehicle to make a grab for the so-called ''black box'' recorders.
"So far, the weather is cooperating," Sutton said. "We have about 8 1/2 foot seas on site. (The Navy ship USS) Mohawk and (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship) Whiting have commenced with their sonar surveying and mapping of the area."
On 'ping' patrol
The plane's two so-called black boxes -- the flight-data recorder and cockpit voice recorder -- are in waters 250 feet deep some 60 miles off the coast of the Massachusetts island of Nantucket.
Attached to a 300-foot line, the Deep Drone robot is using sonar and remote cameras to scan the ocean floor, but it cannot operate in waves of more than 8 feet. The Grapple's captain was to assess whether seas were calm enough to lower the drone, and possibly divers, to recover the data recorders.
Flight 990, carrying 217 passengers and crew members, crashed early Sunday morning, less than an hour after leaving New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, bound for Cairo. Investigators hope the "black boxes" will help explain the Boeing 767's behavior in the final moments of the flight.
Sutton wouldn't venture a guess on how long it might take to retrieve the data recorders. "(There are) so many variables -- the weather, the wave height, how fast the anchoring process goes (and) how quickly we can get rigged and get the Deep Drone in the water."
He said high seas, high winds, heavy equipment and hazardous diving depths would make the operation dangerous.
The three vessels departed for the crash site late on Thursday. Sutton said there was a limited window of opportunity for Friday's search effort because weather was expected to deteriorate by evening.
Rough seas had forced recovery operations to be all but suspended on Wednesday and Thursday.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which is in charge of the crash investigation, is also responsible for taking care of 140 grieving family members, who are staying at a hotel in Newport, Rhode Island.
The NTSB says it will allow relatives of crash victims to see some of the wreckage that has been retrieved so far and taken to Quonset Point, Rhode Island across Narragansett Bay from the Newport Navy base.
A small memorial service was held Thursday in Cranston, Rhode Island, for more than a dozen Coptic Christians -- an Egyptian Christian denomination -- who were on the flight.
An Islamic prayer service was scheduled for Friday at the Newport hotel. A memorial service for all faiths was scheduled Sunday.
EgyptAir's final dive at supersonic speed, radar indicates
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