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Missing Plane Search Aided by San Diego-Built Ship

USNS Cesar Chavez is heading to the southern Indian Ocean to deliver supplies

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Diana Guevara

     A U.S. Navy ship built in San Diego is joining international forces to aid in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the Navy announced Thursday.

    The U.S. 7th Fleet supply ship USNS Cesar Chavez is set to take fuel, provisions and freight to Australian naval ships that are actively searching for the plane off the western coast of Australia.

    "Although a crisis has brought us to these waters, the team aboard Chavez is standing by and proud to support such a vital mission," said Chavez's civil service master Capt. Rollin Bellfi.

    The 689-foot Chavez will be setting off from Singapore with its crew of 125 civilian service mariners and 11 Navy sailors.

    The ship’s mission came after a formal joint operations command request for tanker support was sent to the U.S. Pacific Command.

    The Navy said their response is part of its commitment to allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

    "This is an unexpected assignment, but our logistics ships are used to responding quickly to emergent requirements," said COMLOG WESTPAC replenishment officer, Lt. Cmdr. Gentry Debord.

    From the U.S. Pacific Fleet, USNS Cesar Chavez joins two P-8 Poseidon patrol aicraft, a towed pinger locator and an underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 side-scan sonar.

    The Chavez was constructed by NASSCO in the heart of Barrio Logan, and it was christened in San Diego in 2012. It was the first Navy ship to be named after a Mexican-American.

    Meanwhile, in the hunt for Flight MH370, a new possible signal from the jet’s black box was located underwater Thursday.

    An Australian navy aircraft picked up the signal in the area where a ship first hears sounds consistent with a black box, according to the Associated Press.

    The search area has been scaled down to its smallest size yet – just over 22,000 square miles.