A woman leaves a message of support and hope for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in Kuala Lumpur on March 16, 2014. Picture: Damir Sagolj

Durban - An international car carrier that recently docked in Durban’s waters has joined the search for the Malaysian Airlines plane that went missing earlier this month with 239 people on board.

The Norwegian ship Hoegh St Petersburg left Durban Harbour on March 6 and was en route to Melbourne via Port Louis in Mauritius, before responding to calls to help search for possible debris picked up in Australian Maritime Safety Authority surveillance photos.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 went missing on March 8 while travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Two large objects, which the authority suspects say may be remnants of the airliner, were seen in water 2 500km south-west of Perth this week. Hoegh St Petersburg has now been redirected to aid in the search.


Haakon Svane, a spokesman for the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, said the ship and its crew of 20 Filipinos had searched a strip of ocean stretching about 100 nautical miles (185 kilometres) using binoculars and unaided eyes.

“The visual observations are the most important. The fact that they are there and have the capacity to move in a specific pattern is the most important contribution,” he said.

Olav Sollie, head of ship owning at Höegh Autoliners, confirmed that as of last night, they had not found any wreckage of the missing jet.

Sollie said that the vessel had been searching all of Thursday and Friday, and will continue on Saturday.

“Our search is conducted together with airplanes launched from Australia. We have no findings so far,” he said.

Two Chinese aircraft are expected to arrive in Perth today to join the search, and two Japanese aircraft will be arriving on Sunday.