BLOG: On board with search for QZ8501
The New Paper photojournalist Ariffin Jamar is on board RSS Persistence, one of three Singapore navy ships joining search-and-locate efforts
Feels good to be back on land again.
We left the search zone on Jan 5 and made our way back to Singapore.
I still feel shaky even though I'm off the boat.
Read more about my experience with the crew of the RSS Persistence here.
An aircraft life raft was spotted by RSS Persistence at 10.15am on Sunday morning within the Republic of Singapore Navy's designated search area in the Java Sea.
The life raft was subsequently recovered on board the ship at 10.55am.
The Indonesian authorities have been informed and arrangements will be made to deliver the life raft to the authorities.
The mood turned more sombre this morning as our ship spotted a body at close to 8am.
Just after 8.45am, the crew of the RSS Persistence managed to recover it through a forward side door of the ship.
Indonesian authorities were informed and arrangements are being made to deliver the body.
The crew also recovered a life raft as well at about 10.20am. It was inflated and measures about 3m by 6m.
It was quite large, taking about 20 crew members to haul it on board.
Crew of RSS Persistence bringing the found body on board
Saturday saw the weather improve. Still cloudy but better for the search.
The ship found a luggage bag and part of an aircraft overhead compartment were recovered this morning.
The ship pulls alongside and the items are hooked or netted via the side door.
The mood on the ship is picking up. The crew clearly feel better that they are finding items.
Fast Craft Utility (FCU) being launched after the Super Puma sortie spotted something in the sea on Friday night.
On board the FCU. The sea was very choppy but a clear moon helped improve visibility.
Super Pumas in foul weather
A Super Puma takes off on a sortie.
Bringing debris on board.
The crew here saw quite a bit of action today. When weather conditions improved, one Super Puma was launched to assist in the search at about 4pm.
At about 6pm, the crew on the helicopter spotted something in the water that could be related to the crash.
A marker was dropped from the helicopter into the sea to help search teams on fast crafts find it later.
The location is about 10 minutes flight time from the RSS Persistence.
Just after 8pm, two fast crafts from the ship were dispatched to locate the marker and check out what the helicopter crew saw.
I was allowed to follow on one of the fast crafts. The going was extremely rough. The sea was extremely choppy, with waves drenching everyone in the fast craft as it conducted the search. At least one person vomited from sea sickness because it was so choppy.
It was also extremely hard to see at night. But after about two hours of searching, we were unable to spot the marker, and the fast craft returned to the ship.
I heard the Commanding Officer of the ship tell the crew not to be disheartened that they could not find the marker. The search will continue tomorrow, weather permitting.
It was a bad night for sleeping as the sea was quite choppy with a sea state of 4 (waves of up to 2.5m).
We had expected much worse conditions this morning, with the sea state expected to hit 6 (waves up to 6m), but thankfully, it actually got better and we're experiencing sea state 3 at the moment (waves up to 1.5m).
It's still drizzling, and the wind is quite strong, so all search operations were suspended this morning until the weather improves. Visibility now is only about 3 nautical miles.
It's still drizzling, and the wind has died down. But it looks like we'll be in for a very rocky ride tomorrow morning.
Currently, we are at sea state 3 and the waves are up to 1.25m.
But tomorrow we are expecting it to hit sea state 6 — waves as high as 6m.
The crew is already taking precautions for the rough seas. The Super Pumas are being lashed down to the deck and their rotors have been folded.
The weather seems to be getting quite bad. After the Super Puma returned to the RSS Persistence with the RSN AUV team at about 2.30pm, all operations had to be cut because of strong winds.
It's drizzling as well. I'm not sure what the sea state is right now but the ship seems to be rocking a lot worse than before.
The upper decks have also been declared out of bounds because of the deteriorating weather.
We are waiting for the Super Puma to return with the RSN AUV team. once they arrive, the Super Puma will go out to assist in the search.
Visibility is much better today at 10 nautical miles despite it being cloudy.
After the search was called off yesterday due to bad weather, the mood on the ship was sombre.
But there was a hint of cheer when midnight hit when crew members wished each other happy new year.
Today, one Super Puma will fly out to Pangkalan Bun in Kalimantan to pick up the RSN Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) team.
The AUV will be deployed to help in the underwater search operations for flight QZ8501. More updates to come.
Ariffin Jamar: Currently Sea State 2 and the drizzle has turned to rain.
Fast craft will be launched to help in the recovery effort.
Both Super Puma helicopters are being sent out.
Commanding Officer of the RSS Persistence, LTC Ang Jeng Kai, 36, briefing the crew at morning assembly.
"The waters are choppy, we must practice upmost safety when we head out for our mission."
The crew preparing nylon ropes for the mission in the new search area, about 600 nautical miles away from Singapore.
We have reached the new search zone. There is a heavy drizzle and the waters are choppy.
RSS Persistence has moved into it's own area and the other ships, Frigate RSS Supreme and RSS Valour, are no longer in sight.
The following photos were taken last night as RSS Persistence got ready for its new mission.
The xenon light was turned on at around midnight as we made our way to the new location.
View from the bridge of the Rss Persistence.
The alleys of the RSS Persistence at night is lighted up with red lamps.
The flight of stairways in the RSS Persistence.
Ariffin Jamar's pictures and report from the RSS Persistence, which is headed to the area where debris from AirAsia flight QZ8501 has been found:
Last night the RSS Persistence went through rough waters and experience sea state 3.
Water dispenser and shoe racks fell down and loose items such as tables and chairs had to be secured down in preparations for rougher waters.
We are expecting sea state 4 (up to 2m waves) at the search site. We may reach it at 9am in the morning on Dec 31.
The two Super Puma helicopters landing on the RSS Persistence at around 7.45pm. They left from Sembawang Air Base.
The Super Pumas would be deployed first to comb the search area allocated to us.
Also with the RSS Persistence LST, two other Navy ships are together in the search party, Supreme (frigate) and Valour (missile corvette).
The Commander Task Group (CTG) Col Edwin Leong arriving on a craft to meet the RSS Persistence.
The helicopters would start combing through the search area in a snake-like manner from heights of about 500ft to 1000ft.
Each flight would take up to three hours and 4 RSAF personel would be on board, one pilot, one co-pilot and two aircrew specialist.
"In case we spot something in the waters, we would drop a white smoke marker indicating the area so that the other parties could spot it," said CPT Ryan Tan from RSAF.
The distance covered by the Super Puma would be about 30 by 30 nautical miles.
"We will do our best to help our neighbouring countries, this is really a testament to the friendship in the Asean region," said CPT Ryan Tan.
Ariffin Jamar: We are expected to reach the new search location - off the south-west of Kalimantan - at 9am on Wednesday
Ariffin Jamar: At 3.30pm, RSS Persistence arrived at initial designated search area with RSS Supreme.
Commander Task Group transferred to RSS Persistence.
Initially, each country was allocated a designated search area.
Obviously that changed earlier today and we are heading toward the area where the debris was found.
Wednesday will be first full day of the search and locate operation.
Ariffin Jamar: We are expected to reach the search area around 3pm.
Seas are getting more rough. I'm told waters are at Sea State 4. That means waves are up to 2.5m. Sea State measures surface conditions of the water. Highest level is Sea State 9 - over 14m.
Not much sleep last night as it was Sea State 3 (up to 1.25m). Sea sickness plus sound of anchor banging on the hull kept me awake.
Data connection not great. Pictures to come.
On board the RSS Persistence.
Ariffin Jamar: Waters are getting choppy and I'm still getting used to the boat.
Ariffin is a photojournalist with The New Paper, and is currently embedded on the RSS Persistence, a Navy ship assisting in the search and locate mission for AirAsia flight QZ8501.
TNP photojournalist Ariffin Jamar has sent back a video of a Super Puma helicopter landing on the RSS Persistence.
The RSS Persistence, a Republic of Singapore Navy landing ship tank (LST) is assisting in the search and locate mission to find missing AirAsia flight QZ8501.
The ship is now out at sea.
Personnel rolling the gantry net on board the RSS Persistence.
TNP PHOTO: Ariffin Jamar
The New Paper will be embedded with the Republic of Singapore Navy's landing ship tank (LST), the RSS Persistence, which will take part in the search and locate mission to find AirAsia Flight QZ8501.
The LST will leave Changi Naval Base this evening (Dec 29) for Indonesia.
Look out for our reports from photojournalist Arrifin Jamar (below) as he files the latest reports from the search site.
The RSN has already sent the Formidable-class frigate, the RSS Supreme, and the missile corvette, the RSS Valour, to take part in the search efforts.