Bye Bye Bluefin: Navy Drone Sub Yanked from Hunt for MH370

A 17-foot-long drone submarine the United States dispatched to help trawl the Indian Ocean for signs of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been pulled out of the hunt, at least temporarily, which means that the Pentagon no longer has any major military assets assisting in the search for the missing plane.

The Bluefin-21, which has been hunting for the plane since late March, is out of the water and on a ship bound for western Australia, Navy spokesman Chris Johnson said. The searchers hope to repair the sub on board the ship, using parts delivered by helicopter, and return it to the hunt. If they aren't able to do so, the work will be finished in port.

Johnson said it wasn't clear how long the Bluefin's search would be put on hold for repairs, but said it wouldn't go back to the Indian Ocean unless it was shipshape. Additional spare parts for the Bluefin are being sent from Britain and aren't expected to arrive in Australia until Sunday, according to a Joint Agency press release.

The Australia-based Joint Agency Coordination Center, which is coordinating the hunt for MH370, could not be reached for comment.

The Bluefin began acting up during a dive Tuesday afternoon, when searchers aboard the ship Ocean Shield experienced trouble communicating with the sub, Johnson said. After about two hours in the water, they brought the Bluefin back to the surface to check on it. In the process, the sub collided with the Ocean Shield's navigation transponder, damaging the transponder, the Bluefin's propeller, and some of the sub's electronics.

Prior to its untimely accident, the Bluefin, which is operated by Phoenix International Holdings, Inc., under a contract with the Navy, had been charged with scouring 154 square miles of the Indian Ocean. It's the last of the Navy's assets involved in the hunt for Flight 370, which has been missing since the early morning hours of March 8. At one point, the Navy had also dispatched P-8 Poseidon planes to participate in the hunt, but they were pulled back in late April once the Navy decided that there was no longer any real possibility of finding pieces of the airliner on the water's surface.

Vessels from Australia, Malaysia, and China, in addition to an Australian aircraft, remain involved in the hunt.

Peter D. Blair/U.S. Navy via Getty Images


A Who's Who in the Executive Cell Block

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday for accepting bribes to streamline the construction of a luxury apartment complex. When his incarceration begins in September, Olmert will be the latest in the surprisingly long list of world leaders serving hard time for a variety of crimes both real and imagined. Below are the most prominent members of a club none wanted wanted to join.

Moshe Katsav
Former president of Israel
Charges: Convicted of rape and sexual harassment in 2011.
Status: In third year of a seven-year sentence.

Charles Taylor
Former president of Liberia
Charges: Convicted in 2012 of providing aid to rebels in Sierra Leone that facilitated terrorism, rape, murder, and the enlistment of child soldiers.
Status: Currently imprisoned in Britain, where he has 42 years remaining in his 50-year sentence.

Bo Xilai
Former minister of commerce of China
Charges: Convicted in 2013 of corruption, bribery, and abuse of power.
Status: Imprisoned in China with a life sentence.

Mohamed Morsi
Former president of Egypt
Charges: Conspiring to kill protesters and commit terror attacks, insulting the judiciary.
Status: Still on trial, but has been held in prison since being ousted from office in a military coup in July 2013.

Anwar Ibrahim
Former deputy prime minister of Malaysia
Charges: Corruption and sodomy.
Status: Served part of a prison term for his first conviction in 2000, but was released when the charges were overturned in 2004. He faced new sodomy charges in 2008, then was acquitted, but in March 2014 a court overturned the acquittal. He remains free while appealing the charges.

Thaksin Shinawatra
Former prime minister of Thailand
Charges: Convicted in 2008 of corruption.
Status: Facing a two-year prison sentence, Thaksin never returned to Thailand after attending the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His sister and political successor, Yingluck, was also recently indicted for being derelict in her office for a failed rice subsidy program.

Pervez Musharraf
Former president and military chief of staff of Pakistan
Charges: High treason for declaring a state of emergency in 2007 without consulting the prime minister.
Status: Free on his own recognizance while awaiting trial.

Hissène Habré
Former president of Chad
Charges: Crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture.
Status: Arrested in June 2013, on trial in Senegal.

DAN BALILTY/AFP/Getty Images; DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images; TOUSSAINT KLUITERS/AFP/GettyImages; Feng Li/Getty Images; Spencer Platt/Getty Images; MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images; Alex Livesey/Getty Images; Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images; STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images