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Bluefin-21 Set to Dive Down to Search Again; Putin Phones Obama Over Ukraine

Aired April 15, 2014 - 08:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, April 15th, 8:00 in the East.

The search for Flight 370 continues with teams ready to relaunch that submersible drone to search for wreckage. Monday's search ended abruptly after the sub dove past its depth limit, and there's also renewed attention this morning on the copilot. A U.S. official says his cell phone was on searching for service as the plane vanished.

Let's get straight over to Erin McLaughlin live in Perth, Australia, following the latest developments on this search.

Erin, we're waiting for the Bluefin-21 to get back into the water. Any update on that?


We're told nothing gets back in water this quick and with the Bluefin's mission cut short, it certainly appears to be the case.


MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Breaking overnight, U.S. Navy officials say no objects of interest were found among the data downloaded from their unmanned underwater robot, this as the first subsurface search was cut short. Seven and a half hours into its mission, the Bluefin-21 was forced to resurfaced early.

The Bluefin was originally expected to scour the ocean floor for debris. The whole journey lasting 20 hours. But instead, the device resurfaced after the officials say it exceeded its maximum operating depth of 14,800 feet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just hit a deeper spot than we initially planned so we just got to bring it up, reprogram it, shift a little bit away from the deeper area, and adjust our search pattern.

MCLAUGHLIN: Meanwhile, a new detail emerging, a U.S. official tells CNN the co-pilot's cell phone was on during the flight and made contact with the Malaysian cell tower, according to information shared by Malaysian investigators. That cell phone signal reportedly detected about 30 minutes after the plane made that sharp westward turn, around the time the aircraft disappeared from radar.


MCLAUGHLIN: The Bluefin-21 is still onboard the Australian vessel the Ocean Shield. Bad weather preventing it from being put back into the water -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Erin, thank you very much.

We'll have to be monitoring that weather, but, again, this is going to take time. We know that. You know who knows it best? Our expert, CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Mary Schiavo, and CNN's safety analyst and former FAA inspector, author of the book "Why Planes Crash", Mr. David Soucie.

So, Mary, the weather is going to be a problem. Timing is going to be a problem. Patience is needed, and that's just the reality. Fair point?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Fair point, and then as we mentioned before in previous accidents, the one in the Java Sea which crashed the January, got the black boxes in August. So it might be in for a long haul.

CUOMO: Why stick with the Bluefin, David Soucie? Why not go with the Alvin or Remora, or the Sea Dragon or one of these other interesting named devices that can go deeper? Why stick with this one?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Maybe the other devices don't have the sonar equipped system.

CUOMO: Why do we need sonar?

SOUCIE: Because that's the only thing able to gives broadcast view what's going on down there. It's very dark. It's completely dark down there. Sunlight can't penetrate that deep, so you're in complete darkness waiting for a visual search and you can only see so many feet at a time.

Whereas, here, you're talking hundreds of meters at a time.

CUOMO: Couldn't they have anticipated this? The answer to the question was actually, no, and there are reasons for that. Why?

SOUCIE: There's no pre-mapping done in these areas. As David Gallo was pointing out earlier, there's only so many places are completely mapped, and typically with these searches you start with a pretty good map in the first place so you can autonomously preprogram where the thing will go.

With this type of search you're waiting on the censors onboard to say, it's too deep, or there's a big mound in front of me to avoid. You're relying a lot on what's going on down under.

CUOMO: Mary, is that why they're only using one? David Gallo, you know, part of our team. He worked on 447 Air France, he had three of them working down there. Why only one?

SCHIAVO: Well, just based on hearsay and what Angus Houston has said, one is all that they'd asked for and thought all they needed. The reason is, they thought they had zeroed in on it.

And with the ping, getting the pings, having the locate down to a 17- mile distance between all four of the pings, he said they thought he had a pretty good shot on the first try and in fact sent the Bluefin down to the area they found most promising. So there aren't very many of them and the Navy loaned them this one. I would assume if they really think they need more they could ask others to loan them more.

But Mr. Houston said they were on top of it and one is what they needed.

CUOMO: And you've been a fan of his thus far. You, Mary and David, you believe he's running in the right way. So, let's go to the aspect of the investigation that doesn't seem to be well run and I say that with cause, the latest cause.

Have you ever heard of investigators being wrong about whether or not cell phones were picked up on a flight during an investigation?

SOUCIE: You know, actually, I've been wrong before but I didn't broadcast to the world, hey, I've been wrong with this. You come out, this is what we've done. We checked this record, we checked that record.

Later, if something comes up, there's a reason for it. Oh, we didn't check this record, for example. That's where, again, it goes back to the communication. I don't think they're doing it wrong. I think they're just communicating what they're doing within the investigation improperly.

CUOMO: You have to distinguish between, oh, we missed something in the records we thought we found, versus -- there is no record.

SOUCIE: That's right.

CUOMO: You know what I'm saying?

SOUCIE: Yes, exactly.

CUOMO: That's different. You look at 239, you miss a conversation Mary had with me. I get it. We're dealing with detail. That's sub- optimal, but expect it.

But nothing was picked up, Mary, versus, you know, 39 days later, oh, yes. It was. Oh, and it was the copilot. That seems extraordinary?

SCHIAVO: Well, it seems extraordinary; it reveals the bias in the investigation. There were several biases that the investigators are trained, you know, from the FBI, the inspectors general trained to avoid and that is the anchoring effect. You latch on to the first thing you come along, oh, it must be the pilots. Then you try to make the evidence fit.

My guess is they went looking for the piloted and copilot's cell phone and may have not searched the universe, shall we say, for the rest of the cell phones that might have been on that plane. I think they probably started with the pilots, and this might be the first piece of information we have, but it's unfortunate that they seem to have preconceived notions and hopefully can rise above that.

SOUCIE: But if that's the case, then why didn't this come out before?

CUOMO: That's what I'm saying.

SOUCIE: That's what's so strange about it. Yes. They went to the pilots, but --

SCHIAVO: Exactly.

SOUCIE: -- even if just finding that out now, what did they do? Check all 239 people before they did this? It doesn't make sense.

CUOMO: And almost now confusing, right? Other than the pass of interest saying, oh, pilots leave their cell phones on? All this controversy about passengers wanted their cell phones on.

Does it -- what does it mean that his cell phone was on? Does it automatically mean anything?

SOUCIE: Well, it doesn't automatically mean anything, particularly because we don't have the conversation, we don't know how long it was. It was just a connection attempt.

CUOMO: We don't know it was a conversation.

SOUCIE: We don't know and there probably wasn't time for what they're saying. But there's been communication done with cell phones with small towers and small airports when they've lost their ability to communicate to the UHF radio and they say I'm coming in. Turn the lights on at the airport. It's nighttime. You know, things like that, and people do that, low altitudes and small airports.

So, this isn't -- it wouldn't be unique if he had no other means of communication to turn on his cell phone and make an attempt to connect, even getting to a low altitude where he thought he could connect.

CUOMO: The worst implication is that it's the one it's going to provide, Mary and David, which is that it's going to undermine confidence in the investigators, which is exactly what the families don't need at this point.

Thank you very much for the perspective. We'll be back with you for sure.


BOLDUAN: Now to Ukraine, a country teetering towards war. Ukraine's government saying this morning that an anti-terrorist operation is underway in eastern Ukraine. This comes after President Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone Monday. Putin continuing to deny that Russia is interfering in that country.

Phil Black is on the ground in Ukraine. Get to him in one second.

But, first, let's start with White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski for more on the truly critical phone call at a critical moment.


The account of what exactly went on in this call as usual varies widely, depending which side is telling it. The White House calling it, though, frank and direct, saying President Obama expressed grave concern for Russian government support of those armed militants who have taken over government buildings across eastern Ukraine and urged Putin to convince them to stop, saying that there is still a diplomatic window here, but that it won't work and what the White House call and environment of Russian military intimidation, armed provocation within Ukraine, and escalatory rhetoric by the Kremlin.

What is the Kremlin saying happened in this call? Well, they say that the violence in Ukraine is the fault of the Ukrainian government. Russia denied its own involvement, and urged President Obama to use American influence to prevent further violence.

So whether there was any actual progress in this call, as other calls have completely lacked, according to the White House, we're waiting to hear more from the White House later on today, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Much more to learn from there. Michelle, thanks so much. Michelle Kosinski, live at the White House.

So, that phone call Michelle is talking about comes days after a Russian jet made several very close passes past a U.S. Navy war ship in the Black Sea.

Meanwhile, police appeared to have taken back control of some buildings in Eastern Ukraine, though many pro-Russian groups continue to ignore Kiev's demand they leave and Ukrainian officials tell CNN now that 350 National Guard troops are headed for the region.

Let's get the very latest from the ground. CNN's Phil Black joins us once again from eastern Ukraine -- Phil.


Yes, the Ukrainian government's response to all this across the eastern region has been a little hesitant so far. They're saying now they're launching an anti-tear operation, as you say, 350 national guardsmen heading into the region surrounding Donetsk. If they're hesitant up until now is because they've got no good choices. They allow these pro-Russian groups to continue their occupations, to consolidate their hold on the region, then the authority of the central government in Kiev is eroded.

But if they'd force a confrontation, there's a risk this could escalate very quickly, that lives could be lost and it could give Russia a pretext for more direct intervention. They are clearly desperately looking for a way out of this, which could be why they have floated the idea of an international peacekeeping force. That is what the acting president has suggested to the United Nations secretary-general -- the idea being an international force coming in here to put a stop to this, to work with Ukrainian authorities.

It doesn't look like a realistic starter, though, because in order to happen it would have to get through the Security Council. That is where Russia has a veto. But Ukraine is clearly saying it still needs more help from the international community to hold this country together -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: The escalation is key.

Phil Black in Ukraine, thank you so much for that.

It's about quarter past the hour. Let's take a look at more of your headlines now. Several days of scathing cross-examination of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial have now come to an end. The prosecution finished its grilling of the Olympian by slamming his version of events. Pistorius says he mistook his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot her to death, but the state's relentless scrutiny led Pistorius to break down today saying that he is not sure who's to blame for her death.

Prosecutors say they expect to file hate charges against Frazier Glenn Cross. He's the 73-year-old accused of gunning down three people outside two Jewish facilities in Kansas. Investigators say Cross has a long history of ties to white supremacist groups and appearing to have been targeting Jews on Sunday. All three victims have now been identified, and none of them were Jewish.

Today, Boston marks a solemn anniversary one year since the bombings that ripped through the finish line of the Boston marathon, killing three and injuring more than 260. Vice President Joe Biden will attend a memorial service in Boston paying tribute to the victims and to first responders. A moment of silence held 2:49 p.m. Eastern, the moment the first bomb went off.

A year later, the people who will there reunited for this inspiring "Boston Globe" photo. Their lives changed forever, but they remain Boston strong. Arguably, Boston stronger, as John King says.

CUOMO: And at the E.R. today he said.

BOLDUAN: It was good. It was good.

Let's take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, Ukrainian battalion moving east saying Russia's standoff could get worse and quickly. What could happen next? We're going to break it down. The military expert, next.

CUOMO: Did you know we know more about parts of Mars than parts of the ocean? The sonar sub going where nothing has gone before in search of Flight 370. So just how remote is this part of the world, and why don't we know more about it? How can we go to space but not the bottom of the ocean? We'll show you.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY."

Ukraine is on the brink this morning. Pro-Russian separatists maintain their grip on several buildings in the East and now, Ukrainian officials tell CNN that 300 national guard troops are headed for the region.

Major General James "Spider" Marks is military analyst for CNN, also retired from the U.S. army. He was a senior intelligence officer during the invasion in Iraq and a former commanding general at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center.

I have none of your pedigree, Spider, but even I know these are not just Russian separatists or pro-separatists. These are Russian informed, equipped or probably connected troops already in the Ukraine fomenting tension. Why am even I saying something other than that?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: We should not be confused. This is Russian instigated and these are Russian forces that are igniting this activity we see in Ukraine right now and it's not hard for these forces to get into Ukraine. They have routine access to Sevastopol down in Crimea. It happens as a matter of routine.

CUOMO: I mean, is it unfair? I mean, I do feel like, you know, yes, Russia saying, the West, the U.S., you better stop this fomenting tension that's going on before a civil war breaks out. No. We're just training.

But isn't it fair at this point to say these are unsubstantiated statements? If not outright lies?

MARKS: They're outright lies, Chris. Putin controls all the activities, as we say, the horizontal and vertical. He can get in and stop this at any moment. This is not organic inside Ukraine.

CUOMO: Right. Instead, he's doing the opposite. Witness what happened with the USS ship in the Black Sea. Put up the animation.

So, they're out there, they're doing a monitoring thing, this Russian jet starts whipping by them. It's not call it's the buzzing of the ship, because it doesn't go directly --

MARKS: Whipping by is --

CUOMO: Taunting. MARKS: Taunting, that's exactly what happened. What they were doing, Chris, this aircraft clearly is trying to figure out what the United States naval, rules of engagement are. What type of radar signal will it get? What type of intelligence can that Russian aircraft get off this U.S. vessel?

CUOMO: U.S. was trying to communicate to the aircraft and it didn't respond, 90 minutes or something like that. Should they have fired a warning shot?

MARKS: No, no. Rules of engagement. Clearly hostile. The profile was not hostile against the ship.

But those of tactical determinations. That's kind of a little dance that takes place. Frankly, we haven't seen it in over 30 years because we haven't had a Soviet Union, but this is also a test of U.S. will, whether the United States is going to depart from the Black Sea.

CUOMO: Now, there are other tests going on. Let's troll around, a little place finders here because these will tell a story as well. Right there, what do we have?

MARKS: Russian forces are training. There are about 40,000, across the border from Ukraine.

CUOMO: Training? Are they training? They are hanging out ready to come in, if they need to.

MARKS: Well, military forces don't hang out. Military forces train, they're busy. But, clearly, there's a strategic message with that, with this activity. So, the Russians would say, this is simply training. It's natural. We do this as a matter of routine. It's clearly provocative to the situation that's here.

Also, there are Spetsnaz, or special forces, that are located that have also moved already into the Ukraine in respect is activity ongoing right now here and here and government buildings have been taken over by those forces.

CUOMO: And this is the biggest part of the canard, right? These pro- separate forces with the Russian uniforms, but we they just don't have insignia on them. I mean, that's probably the worst thing that's been done by the West to encourage this situation, is, like -- continuing this, even, no matter how you look at the transcript of the phone call between Obama and Putin, him saying, were she to be careful about getting these people to lay down arms, Obama says.

Why isn't he saying, these are your guys?

MARKS: Get these folks -- Mr. Putin, Mr. President, get these folks out of Ukraine and I'll continue this conversation. How's that for an opening --

CUOMO: Right. Why isn't he saying that?

MARKS: I have no clue, frankly. I have no clue, who's advising the president on this, but this is provocative to an incredible degree, as we've seen.

Crimea has already been annexed. There's no reason to believe eastern Ukraine wouldn't be annexed. Ukraine does not enjoy article 5 protections as a NATO member, because it's not. There's no obligation on the part of anybody in the west to do anything to prevent this activity.

CUOMO: Not a hell of a lot of motivation either because these economic sanctions that we keep talking about and yes, full disclosure, the ruble is dropping. There was 60 billion divested from Russia in March, more than all of last year. So this shows some strain, but Europe gets at least 30 percent of its fuel from the pipelines that come through the Ukraine from Russia. That's going to hurt them.

MARKS: It is. European leaders, these European nations, frankly, are shameless. They've been saddled up next to Russia for a very long time. They are essentially in bed with them financially. It is difficult for them to step forward and say, we need to stop this activity, because they get hurt.

CUOMO: Now, has it gone too far? Too far gone already? He's got Crimea, this is hurting the Ukraine, a warm water port. This is its industrial center in the east. It seems a forgone conclusion it's being accepted as rationale that these people want to secede as a minimum.

Is it too late for this to be stopped and salvaged?

MARKS: Well, I think a way it could be salvaged is in the government of Kiev allows in the elections some form of referendum allowing this to be federalized in some way. In other words, there's kind of a soft exit, as opposed to a very sharp line of demarcation that says, "This is unacceptable." So there might be a political arrangement that allows Kiev to maintain some degree of power over activities in the eastern Ukraine, if it's acceptable to Moscow.

CUOMO: As we go back to Kate, what it's your guess right now, percentage chance that NATO troops wind up on the ground in some type of conflict with Russian troops going forward?

MARKS: In the next six months?


MARKS: Zero.

CUOMO: Zero?

MARKS: Zero.

CUOMO: Good, that sounds good.

All right. Thank you, Spider. Appreciate it.

MARKS: Thanks, Chris. CUOMO: Kate?

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, in the pitch black depths of the Indian Ocean, teams relying on a drone to scan the ocean's floor for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. We're going to be looking at the challenges for searching one of the world's most hostile environments.

And also this, Sanjay Gupta on a dangerous assignment tracking the spread of a deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Sanjay is going to be joining us live, ahead.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone.

Search teams will be using an underwater drone just like that called a Bluefin 21 to scan the ocean's floor from wreckage from Flight 370 again today, but after its first mission on Monday was aborted, completing less than one-third of its intended search area, there are now new questions as to whether the vehicle is really up to the task. Is this the right one to be doing the job?

Here at the map, David Gallo, co-leader of the search for Air France Flight 447 and director of special projects at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to talk not only the Bluefin but about what we're dealing with under the water. It's such a challenge.

Let's look at this first animation to remind viewers, our representation of what the Bluefin is looking like and how it goes about this search. It's supposed to take two hours to go down.


BOLDUAN: Search for some the 16. Two hours back up.


BOLDUAN: It only completed about 29 percent of the search area on this first day.

David, from your experience with Air France flight, another search that you've done, is that considered a failed day?

GALLO: It's a horrible day for the team onboard the ship and maybe seem like there's a real big issue to us but it's not uncommon. It does happen.

BOLDUAN: Why isn't it uncommon, for those who don't know searches like you do?

GALLO: Well, it's deep. The water's uncharted and in fact that vehicle was told to track the bottom. Stay 30 meters, roughly 100 feet from the bottom. So, it's following the bottom, and the bottom dropped away, the vehicle went deeper and got close to, over its operating --

BOLDUAN: We knew all along that this could test the maximum depth of the Bluefin. We knew it was deep.

GALLO: Sure.

BOLDUAN: What happens to a machine like this and those similar when it does go past its depth limit?