EV Nautilus to search for missing Turkish pilots in Mediterranean

EV Nautilus to search for missing Turkish pilots in Mediterranean

EV Nautilus, a research vessel that is operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust arrives to Turkey's Muğla province in August 2009. (Photo: AA)

June 29, 2012, Friday/ 15:13:00

The EV Nautilus, a research vessel operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust and its founder Robert Ballard, is to search for the two missing pilots of a Turkish military jet that was downed by Syria last Friday.

Ballard has previously helped locate the wreckage of many ships, including the historic RMS Titanic and the battleship Bismarck. Turkish media reported on Friday that the Nautilus will arrive by Monday at the location where the plane is thought to have fallen into the sea.

The wreckage of the jet shot down by Syria and its two pilots have yet to be found, seven days after plunging into the Mediterranean Sea, although some possessions belonging to the pilots have been recovered. The General Staff said in a statement posted online that five military vessels, including a frigate and a gunboat, as well as a CN-235 plane and four search and rescue helicopters, have been searching for the jet since Friday. The statement said teams have been working around the clock, but neither the pilots nor the wreckage have been located.

A Turkish jet was shot down by Syrian forces while flying solo and unarmed 13 miles off the coast of Syria in international airspace last Friday. However, Syria still maintains the aircraft was in Syrian airspace when it was shot down. Syria, which joined in Turkish efforts to locate the wreckage and pilots, earlier claimed to have handed the tail section of the plane over to Turkey, which bore visible bullet holes -- evidence that it was shot down by short-range weapons and thus in Syrian airspace.