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Saturday, November 20, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Robot Maps Wreckage In Crash Area

AP

NEWPORT, R.I. - Good weather and calm seas allowed a salvage vessel and its underwater robot to continue mapping the wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 990 yesterday.

The Carolyn Chouest, on contract to the Navy, arrived at the scene of the crash about 60 miles south of Nantucket, Mass., late Thursday, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Carolyn Chouest continued the process of mapping the debris field using its side-scan sonar and made underwater videotape of the site with its robot, Magnum.

The robot called Deep Drone, operated from the USS Grapple, recovered the plane's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder last week, but little other debris has been brought to the surface.

David Caskey, of the Naval Sea Systems Command, which oversees salvage operations, said bad weather was expected to force the Carolyn Chouest to stop its mapping today.

NTSB Chairman Jim Hall said the large-scale salvage effort will start when the Smit Pioneer arrives in early December.

The Smit Pioneer is currently in Portugal. Its owner, the Dutch company Smit International, is one of the world's largest salvage companies.

The Smit Pioneer is a 520-foot boat that was converted last year from a heavy transport ship into a multipurpose vessel used primarily to help install offshore oil rigs. It has almost 10,000 square feet of deck space and a payload capacity of more than 7,000

tons.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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