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PIERS MORGAN LIVE

Mystery of Flight 370

Aired March 21, 2014 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: This is Piers Morgan Live, and I am Bill Weir filling in tonight. And a search plane zoom back out over that lonely water of the Indian Ocean. It's been a few more anxious hours searching for what could be an 80-foot floating piece of this puzzle. We're going to spend this hour looking into two possible fresh leads. We'll see if there's anything glean from transcripts of radio conversations between the Flight 370 cockpit and the control tower in Kuala Lumpur.

And then there's the revelation by Malaysia Airlines that there were potentially flammable lithium batteries in the cargo. After all, CNN reported this a week ago, it's been four days ago, the airline CEO denied this report, instead, said there was nothing more dangerous than mangosteen fruit in the cargo hold. And today, that story changed yet again, so we've been looking into the flammable, potentially flammable volatility of this kind of battery that's sort used in laptops and cellphones. That's sort that in the right kind of conditions can really go up in flames, but wouldn't the state of the art fire suppression system on a 777 stop a blaze like this. We'll talk to our aviation experts tonight.

And two weeks into this mystery, we'll give you the latest on the search as a growing coalition of nations puts aside their politics for the moment and teams together for this extraordinary hunt. They're using everything they got, hi-tech aircraft, huge vessel sonar, radar, sonar, right down to old fashion eyeballs through the binoculars there.

But the search area in that dark corner of the Indian Ocean, so huge, so remote, they can only cover a few small sections at a time. And with bad weather on the horizon, this round the clock hunt is only a bound to get tougher.

And as we're week winds down, oh do I have a story for you, the kind that will put a lump on your throat in the best possible way. For over 40 years, he was denied the highest owner in the land because of the color of his skin, but that changed this week. And thanks to our great new animators here at CNN. We're going to make sure his story is not denied again.

But our big story, once again, tonight begins down under with Kyung Lah in Perth. Good to see you once again. How goes the search tonight?

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we can wrap it up in basically one word, more. There are more planes heading down to that area throughout the day, there are four already in the air here. This is Saturday. They are not taking the day off. The military in Australia getting more countries involve in this. They're hoping to get even more planes in, so a total of six heading down to this remote area.

And the interesting thing here Bill, is that they're using these civilian planes. The planes you might see in a movie that the rich guy flies. Those planes can get down there very quickly, they're using human spotters, they don't have radar, and they're going to scour the area using eyeballs and then jetpacks.

So, they're using combination of things, military prop planes with radar and then these civilian planes with trained eyeballs, Bill.

WEIR: That's an interesting department. Get those fast jets in and out of there. I want to play a little bit of Prime Minister -- Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott, after the last search. And his remarks are seemed tampered. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: It could just be a container that's fallen off a ship. We just don't know. But we owe it to the families and the friends and the loved ones of the almost 240 people on flight MH370 to do everything we can to try to resolve what is as yet an extraordinary riddle. That's about the most inaccessible spot, if you could imagine on the face of the earth. But if there is any thing down there, we will find it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: They try to tamper things a couple of days ago, but there was so much excitement that something, some possible clue was found out there. But I wonder if the morale is starting to dip. What do you hearing about, you know, the energy level of the search crews after this time of fruitless hunting?

LAH: Yeah. It really does depend on who you speak to, Bill. Because when we saw the New Zealand search crews come back, they seem to be quite desolated, that they are very disappointed they didn't find anything. Certainly, the Australians seemed disappointed as well, but what you heard is that they had hope, they feel that this is a good lead, that they want to get back into the air, that they want to scour that area and underlining everyone, even though they maybe disappointed.

We're not in day three here, they want to get answers to these families, hundreds of people, or around the world.

WEIR: And how's the forecast, weather forecast in this weekend?

LAH: Yeah. And the weather forecast is not bad. From -- this is an area of the world we should point out that is remote. It is tough conditions normally. The waves are extremely high. But what we hear from the search teams is that the conditions yesterday were quite good, only five to 10 feet as far as the waves. Remember, there's no land around there. So you get extraordinary high waves. They felt it was pretty good yesterday, they're expecting good conditions today.

WEIR: Kyung Lah, as always, we appreciate your reports from down there and more breaking news.

Back state side, Britain's telegraph reporting it as a transcript of 54 minutes of communication between the cockpit and air traffic control of the plane's last messages we knew about, "All right, good night" This is the first time we've had an indication of what the conversation was before this..

Meanwhile, American investigators are also learning that files were deleted from the pilot's computer even closer to the flight date than they originally thought that could meaningful or not. We all clean off our computer some time to time.

CNN's Pamela Brown joins us now with more on this. Let's start with the telegraphs reporting on the transcript, a few caveats, right?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. That's right. You know, at first glance, it looks pretty uneventful. But Bill, there are a couple of parts of this purported transcript that the telegraph newspaper obtain that it could be interesting to some, especially considering that we're dealing with a missing plane. And there are couple aspects of it. For one, pilot repeated the altitude of the plane and also at the very end of that, the 54-minute conversation, the pilot didn't repeat what air traffic control said.

Now, that's a standard operating procedure. The pilot is supposed to repeat it, that doesn't always happen according to the pilots who've been speaking to. It's not uncommon for pilots to use sort of informal conversation with air traffic control. But again, everything is being picked to party or being scrutinized Bill, because of the fact that this, you know, plane is missing. But important to also note here that this transcript was translated from English into another language and then back into English.

So, some of it could have been lost in translation if you will. And also, CNN has not been able to verify the authenticity of this transcript. And also the newspaper, the telegraph news paper said it reached out to the office of the Malaysian Prime Minister and the office said that it would not release a copy of this transcript.

WEIR: Right. I think it was Mandarin Chinese, so obviously, some new answers in that conversation ...

BROWN: Yes.

WEIR: ... could be lost in there. But it was revealed that the captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah placed a cellphone call from the cockpit. We all call home, but waiting to take off, anything being made to that?

BROWN: Well, at this point, it's not being looked at as a smoking gun here, you know, from the very beginning of this investigation, they were looking at the phone records from the pilots and the passengers. And so, you know, at this point that there was a report out that the Malaysian official acknowledged this morning that essentially this pilot may had made a phone call in the cockpit, of course, they're going to look at that because we don't have any answers right now.

And also, they've been also looking at Bill, is the deleted files on the hard drive from the pilot. And we're finding out from sources who talked with my colleague (inaudible) that some of the files were deleted more recently than originally disclosed by Malaysian officials. So, forensics experts and outside counsels are working right now to find out not only what is in those deleted files, but how they were deleted. That could be very telling if they were strategically deleted or scrubbed clean in a more sophisticated way than a routine way.

But, on the other hand, it could be very innocent, just routine deletions like something we would do on our computers and phones.

WEIR: Well, if the FBI is finding things that the Malaysians could not, so maybe we'll get more thorough answers. Pamela Brown, I appreciate that.

An international flotilla headed to the search site right now, as we mentioned, ships from Australia and China and Malaysia and the U.K. But as we told you last night here, the first ship on the scene is that big one from Norway, a massive cargo ship that diverted after a request from Australia.

And joining me now on the phone is -- I want to get your name right this time. Haakon Svane is Director for Crisis Management for the Norwegian Shipowners' Association. Thanks for dialing us up again tonight Haakon. So, how many times have you talked to the crew onboard that ship? And then how are they fairing?

HAAKON SVANE, DIR., CRISIS MANAGEMENT, NORWEGIAN SHIPOWNERS' ASSOC. : Well, thank you for having me. We're in a more or less constant and regular touch with the crew onboard. Through the ship owning company here in Oslo and what we have from them is that they continued searching for their fourth day in the area for the -- whatever the Australian rescue coordination center would like them to search for. So they own through pass the day for as long as they're needed.

WEIR: Right. How much have they covered so far? Do you know?

SVANE: Well, today they're plan -- the plan by the rescue center in Australia is that the Norwegian vessel heard that Pittsburgh will cover an area which is approximately 90 nautical miles long. So, now that day light is back in this part of the Indian Ocean, they're already working to cover that area instead sort of the spectrum (ph) which is approximately 90 nautical miles long. And they will move through that spectrum in a particular pattern. And they will of course keep in constant touch with the Australian authorities ...

WEIR: Right.

SVANE: ... leading the rescue effort or search effort for any changes to that plan.

WEIR: Right. Haakon, let me ask you, I failed to ask you this last night. This is a car carrier, you got 7800 cars that potentially on that thing right there, it's not a search and rescue vessel by any stretch. But if you do find a piece everyone is looking for, is there a way for you to retrieve it? Are there divers, any diving capability on that ship?

SVANE: There is no diving capability, but the most important asset on the vessel is of course the eyes and the binoculars, all the crews. And a big part of the 19 strong crews is now actively engaged in searching the area. This is something that crew onboard, any merchants that will be able to do and these guys have shown on the past few days that they're able to search through areas at the direction of the Australians quite well. This crew -- sort of this vessel has free board of some 80 feet. So, it's a pretty good observation platform for ...

WEIR: Right.

SVANE: ... whatever is in the immediate area of the vessel. And they're on their constant direction from the Australians for where to look for what.

WEIR: You got a Norwegian ship, mostly Filipino crew, part of a multinational search on that high, high boat there. Thank you Haakon, we appreciate your time.

Now with planes and ships all converging in that area, attention turning to exactly how they'll look for a trace of the missing plane and wide gaps, and then tides, and winds. And one answer might be satellite track buoys that can help. Luca Centurioni of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography is going to give us a live demonstration here tonight.

Luca, great to be with us. Show us what you're doing, you've got -- these are satellite buoys? How do they work?

LUCA CENTURIONI, SCRIPPS INSTITUTE OF OCEANOGRAPHY: Right. So what we have here is what we call a drifter. And this instrument is designed to do basically three things. We have an element which is underwater, we call it the drag and actually makes so the drifter follows the ocean currents. Then we have another sensor which is a temperature sensor, it measure the temperature of the water. And then very importantly, we have another sensor which is atmospheric pressure sensor. So we measure the atmospheric pressure. And what we do, we feed all the data in real time to anyone who can make a use of it. So, all the operation agencies than can do weather forecast ...

WEIR: Right.

CENTURIONI: ... are able to use our data.

WEIR: Also at (inaudible) let's see this thing in action.

CENTURIONI: So, here is how we can deploy one of those drifters, it's very easy, they can be either deployed from an airplane or just one person can deploy it from the ship. And basically, you just throw it overboard and the drifter starts the mission automatically. Here it goes.

WEIR: And this is going to be pivotal. This kind of device in helping crews figure out drift patterns, so if they do find any debris from Flight 370, it will help us out. We'll check back with you Luca. We appreciate you're live experiment with us.

When we come back, more on that transcript, 54 minutes of messages from the cockpit, are there any clues? We'll dig in next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WEIR: Once again, an international force and search planes is headed for that side in the Southern Indian Ocean at this very moment. We will update you on that as soon as we get a word. And we told you about the transcript of the final 54 minutes of communication between Flight 370 and air traffic controllers back in Kuala Lumpur. Does it contain anything about what possibly could have happened on that plane?

Joining me now, Mary Schiavo, Former Inspector General with Department of Transportation, she represents victims of accidents. Also CNN's Richard Quest and David Soucie, Author of "Why Planes Crash". Good to be with you, all of you once again.

So Richard, it seems rather pro forma, I don't know, I don't -- I never had a conversation with a flight tower, but you've read through this. What do you see here?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: I just -- look, there is some sloppy read backs. And that way hasn't been -- the "All right, good night" without a full proper read back. There are some -- is repeated things once or twice and indeed the translation is excitable ...

WEIR: No please.

QUEST: ... that that plane is really very poor because for example at the take off, the air traffic control just says, "runway ready, permitted to take off." Well, there's no wind speed, there's not wind direction, anything you would expect to see in this. It's a poor translation. It tells us -- my own view is it tells us nothing new.

WEIR: Now we do -- we should slather this with caveats. The telegraph tried to get confirmation from the Malaysian government. They wouldn't give it. It is an English translation from a Mandarin translation as well.

But Mary Schiavo, what about the repeated altitude that there was no need for him to say twice that he was at 35,000 feet?

MARY SCHIAVO, FMR. INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DOT: Well, it was no need for him to say it, but it was just kind of -- it's kind of pro forma like what Richard said, but it was also just communicating where he was in giving that positional information. I read absolutely nothing into it in the informality of the comments about "good night." I went back and read through this transcript and noticed the air traffic control twice before the pilot said "goodnight" had given the plane instruction and they had said goodnight. So they were just, you know, responding in kind.

WEIR: And David, are you surprised that they won't release this officially at this point in the investigation?

DAVID SOUCIE, AUTHOR, "WHY PLANE CRASH": I don't think so. I don't think there's anything suspect in that at all, you know, after thousands of hours right in the cockpit observing pilots, it's a typical conversation other than the translation as Richard pointed out.

WEIR: Right. You got some guys who have probably letter of the law ...

SOUCIE: Yeah, absolutely.

WEIR: ... other guys who are, you know, been up there a while.

SOUCIE: Even with this FAA inspector over his back, it gets casual.

WEIR: Yeah.

QUEST: The one thing I'm going to argue against my self, having said there's ...

WEIR: Please do.

(INAUDIBLE)

QUEST: Well, this just shows the nature of this whole story (inaudible). If you look, the only thing that I can think that you might raise an eyebrow is what's not there. If there was a fire, if there was an incident, if there was something happening mechanical in between when the ACARS switched -- stopped transmitting at 1:07 and we got the "goodnight" at 1:19, you would have expected to be in the transcript. It's not there. So that by -- if you're like by elimination and deduction of the negative, we could perhaps say we can take something out of it.

WEIR: Well, whatever theory you come up with in this whole thing, there's a whole in it, there's a massive whole in it. So, if you change the flight direction 12 minutes, if that report is accurate before saying "goodnight," well that -- it just doesn't add up.

SOUCIE: Well, and -- but that's typical at every investigation. Everything I've always been in. If there's an accident, it's not one thing that causes that accident, it's a plethora of things and it's not just narrowing down one things in, "yes, it is," "no, it's not." It could be combinations, things that are unimaginable, combinations that are unimaginable. Looking at the complexity of this aircraft, it really becomes extremely difficult when you take one piece of evidence by itself. It really has to be a combination of each piece of evidence and then wait against each other.

WEIR: Right. Mary, day 15, still nothing, at what point do they move this search out of that area, the Indian Ocean?

SCHIAVO: Well, I don't think they'll do that yet because the satellite company in Marsat said that today that they had given these coordinates to the authorities two days after the accident. So, if they have some sort of a location and they stated that they do, I think if they will look in that area, not for floating pieces of wreckage, but perhaps under the surface of the water, on the ocean floor for the black boxes or for other pieces. Now, it was a little surprise that that announcement today, but that would give them another place to look except not on top of the water but underneath.

WEIR: And the U.S. Military, we just learned that today has spent $2.5 million so far on the search and rescue. They have budgeted about $4 million. Have we ever seen a situation where they just stop looking? They run out of money and interest?

QUEST: They don't stop looking and they certainly don't stop looking for want of money. What they do is they redefine the search parameters. Air France 447, they've found the original debris, they knew roughly where the plane was, but they went back three or four times. But each time had to be a much grander operation, underwater submersibles. So they know, I mean, I don't know whether you would disagree.

SOUCIE: Yeah. The reason that that happened on 447 is because the Bayesian theory had been modified. There was new information.

QUEST: Right.

SOUCIE: They had assumed that the transponder or that the black box pinger was on. But it wasn't, they both malfunctioned. So they had to go back and research with the difficulty and once they adjusted their Bayesian model, if they found it.

WEIR: OK. Hang out with me everybody. When we come back, I want to talk to everyone about this other big question, were lithium batteries in the hold cause for alarm in the disappearance of 370? And also, we're going to check back in with our sonar buoy, a live demonstration. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WEIR: Back to our news tonight, those military and civilian planes now joining the search in the Southern Indian Ocean looking for any trace of Flight 370. And also today, the CEO of Malaysia Airlines said the plane was carrying a shipment of lithium ion batteries. Although, he didn't say how large that shipment was, it doesn't happen often. But these batteries have been known to explode. So, is that a possible cause for concern?

Back with me, Mary Schiavo, Richard Quest, David Soucie.

So, since 1991, there's a list of the FAA has here, 23 years, only 141 incidents and we'd all know about there was a big UPS plane that went down as a result of this. But Richard, most of these are tribunal.

QUEST: Not only are they tribunal and it didn't even happen on the plane. Most of them are either in sorting area, the pre sorting, being loaded on to the plane. And they're all really concerned fairly substantial numbers of lithium ion batteries usually for one of the major companies, the UPS's or the FedEx's, the number of occasions where, for example, in 2011, a Delta Air Lines passenger's device became very hot and the plastic started to melt. But the number of those, sort of instance, are really quite small.

WEIR: And if it was to burst into flames, let say there was a -- even a palate of lithium of batteries down in the cargo hold, this is a state of the art fire suppression system on this plane, isn't it?

SOUCIE: Yes, Halon, I mean that if this place has any oxygen. So -- but ...

WEIR: Was that mean it sucks all the oxygen out of the ...

SOUCIE: Well, it pushes the oxygen out ...

WEIR: Pushes and it ...

SOUCIE: ... displaces it. But, the interesting thing about the lithium is that they have a capability of reigniting though. So, even though that happens as soon as it restabilizes, it could reignite and there's not a second charge of Halon that will go off in there necessarily.

WEIR: OK. Let's ...

SOUCIE: There isn't some compartments ...

WEIR: ... let's play that through Mary, let say that happened. How would the pilots know? Wouldn't somebody on the ground know that this was going terribly wrong?

SCHIAVO: Well, there is a smoke and fire detection and suppression systems in the cargo hold of this wide body planes. However, we know about this and what happens and how it reignites and how difficult it is to put out because of the Boeing 787 fires in Boston and in Japan, and the fire fighters themselves reported that they kept trying to put it out and it would keep coming back, it was very, very stubborn.

And so, that's why Boeing reinvented the box on those planes. I remember, those planes are being used. So, they're drawing current, it was grounding issues, et cetera. So, Boeing redesigned the box and the box is supposed to contain any kind of a battery fire. So, it was very stubborn to put out.

WEIR: Help me remember, what was the Swiss Air flight where you went out to try to dump fuel over the ocean?

QUEST: I actually -- the in-flight entertainment system ...

WEIR: OK. That was (inaudible). QUEST: ... was from New York to Switzerland and Geneva. And that over heated, it caused the fire. It caused the fire which put smoke into the cockpit. They knew about it. They tried to divert. They tried to get to Canada and they came quite closely, but this was as result of just shared overwhelmingness of this flight.

WEIR: And speaking of batteries, 16 days or so a left juice in the black box. Does that intensify things for people or you can only search as fast as you search?

SOUCIE: Well, what it does is after that pinger stops, now you've got to search -- you're area of which you have to search, your grid has to be much less, you have to physically see the box now as oppose to being within a mile or two of the box and to get the pinger. Now your grid of scanning and examining the floor is got to be much, much, much smaller.

WEIR: Right, right. Thank you all so much. I appreciate your insight and all your work these many hours on CNN.

Coming up next, reports of the families of Flight 370 being forced to leave their hotel in Kuala Lumpur, we'll tell you why when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WEIR: Leading the news again tonight those military and civilian plane, six of them in total so far streaking toward the remote search area in the Indian Ocean to find that piece of (inaudible) that was spotted from the satellite so many days ago now. We're going to get word or we'll provide it, if we get word and there's also a word tonight that the families of the passengers on Flight 370, those increasingly desperate and frightened people had been forced to more from their hotel in Kuala Lumpur. CNN's Sara Sidner has more. Sara what's happening?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: You know, Bill this families have been through a living hell. They have been waiting for so long just to find out what happen to their loved ones and still they do not have anymore answers about what happen to Flight MH 370.

And now, they've had to move from their hotel where they've been during this investigation to another hotel about a 20 minutes drive away. Basically, what has happened is the hotel has been booked up for literally months now because Formula One the Grand Prix is coming here.

And all the hotels around here have been booked solid for a very long time. And so they didn't have room for these families. This is particularly the Cyberview hotel where the Chinese families, for the bulk of the Chinese families have been staying. They had to move from their hotel to a new hotel. And what happens in this cases is that people feel disrespected, they feel -- they are worried that their going to move away from information. But we do know that there have been representatives there that are keeping them informed. But all and all of these families have been saying they still feel like they're not getting enough information. They're not being told information fast enough. And authorities are saying, "Look, we're trying our best." And we're trying to keep them informed and they meet with authorities two nights ago to get the very latest information on the investigation. But as, you know, Bill, the latest on the investigation is that still nothing has been found to indicate where flight MH 370 is.

WEIR: Those poor people. Sara, thank you for that.

And now let's turn to a man who probably knows better than most which sort of anguish those folks are feeling. Maarten Van Sluys lost his sister Adriana on Air France Flight 447 when it crashed in the Atlantic.

Now, almost five years ago, we're a couple of months away from the anniversary. And Martin, thank you, for being with us. And I'm sure, you know, time is kind that it rubs the edges off the hurt a little bit. But with the anniversary approaching and watching this whole drama unfold. How has that open these wounds for you?

MAARTEN VAN SLUYS, LOST SISTER ON AIR FRANCE FLIGHT 447: Yes, it kind of work just so (inaudible) with the missing people and then -- and 16 days ago when we're reconnecting all the same terrible feelings we had five years ago. So (inaudible) details, almost the same story. People hurrying up (inaudible) approach lounges, screaming around, calling cellphones and pretending to listen at their families voices. It happened in some detail, absolutely the same. And also now all the families in the hotels, they realized that as well in that moment in Rio de Janiero where I was in the second day after the crash.

WEIR: I understand that you emerged as sort an organizer, a leader of a lot of the families to try to make certain demands, understand what was happening. Tell me about that. Is it turned confrontational at a certain point?

SLUYS: Yes, of course. As I told someone on the Air France (inaudible) we're not going to be in the side of the table, because they have some concerns about the company image and even when they are celebrating our beloved ones. I understand they do it and the matter of that not because of humanitarian reasons but more -- on top of that of course because of their own interest. But we grew together after five years and we have a big relationship with French Family Association, with the German Family Association. And we're struggling until now for the complete disclosure of what really happened with the Air France 447. It's a long (inaudible) function, we'll have to follow from now on.

WIER: Right, I know that I think they found your sister six, seven days after that crash, I'm sure you we're holding out hope all that time. But in this case two weeks later, what advice would you give to these families in Beijing, in Kuala Lumpur, around the world?

SLUYS: Yeah, I would better -- I would give a warm hug to these people and just feel that on the side of that (inaudible). I understand the anxiety and the anguish that these hours that seems to look -- seems to be one year long. But there is not much to do, I mean the companies involved can not give satisfactory solution for them. But if they can -- even now they can't make big mistakes.

So I think they must make a commission of people that represents the whole group of families at least in China and in Malaysia. And then, (inaudible) representatives in one (inaudible) to achieve transparency in the communications. And before saying something they don't know, better say nothing for the families.

WEIR: Martin, we appreciate your time. As that anniversary approaches, I hope you can focus on the good memories of Adriana. Thanks very much.

And coming up next, we're going to talk about the difficulty of this search now with two men who have been much experienced in the deep waters. They even found a World War II aircraft carrier and we'll continue our demonstration of those buoys next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WEIR: It is the question on the planet right now. How do you search for what maybe, maybe a trace of Flight 370 in the middle of one of the most remote parts of the world?

Ocean explorers, well, they might have the answer. Joining me now, Captain Chris Curl, onboard the research vessel Melville has navigated of the waters for the focus of this search, also joining me is Luca Centurioni of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in U.C. San Diego.

Thanks for being back with us gentlemen. Luca, I know you dropped your buoy. We're going to check in on that for a second. But, Captain, first explain in your experience the difficulty of these waters in a search this size.

LUCA CENTURIONI, SCIPPS INSTITUTE OF OCEANOGRAPHY: Well, the difficulty in general is connected with how objects disperse in the water. So the more time goes by, the more the (inaudible). And so the more difficult it is to find them and then to -- which is step one. And then step two is subtract then back to the side of the site of the presumed crash.

So we have a great coverage globally. That's our way which is essentially founded by Noah (ph) and what we have here, you can see Western Australia, we have a decent member of (inaudible). And the way we contribute to the operation is by providing real time data of atmospheric pressure and then ocean currents that can be used to validate the numerical models.

WEIR: So that the buoy we saw you drop at the top of the (inaudible), is that feeding information back to that computer now?

CENTURIONI: It's been in the formation of real time. So anyone who is capable of disseminating the data. So all the weather centers, all the operational centers, the Australian Navy, they are all are capable of reading our data using and using in their models. WEIR: And that information like -- yeah, we'll do into the drift model so you can hopefully narrow the cone of uncertainty.

Chris, I understand you guys have some experience finding stuff even off the coast of San Diego, it's not all that easy. Did you -- you found a sunken aircraft carrier? Is that right?

CAPTAIN CHRIS CURL, SCRIPPA INSTITUTION OF OCEANOGRAPHY, UC SAN DIEGO: Yes. We're involved in the search for the sunken Japanese carrier Kaga that was involved in the Battle of Midway, it is about a thousand miles north of Midway and waters similar to this depth. Of course, an aircraft carrier is quite a bit larger than an airplane and the debris from an airplane would be a lot smaller than looking for an aircraft carrier which in itself was very difficult.

So the task of finding the airplane wreckage is going to be daunting for these searchers.

WEIR: Yes, I know that Chuck Hagel, our Secretary of Defense, is requesting hydrophones, I guess towable (ph) underwater listening devices maybe to hear the ping of that box. But for a land lover like me, this is probably a dumb question in my ignorance is obviousness, why not send submarines down there to listen?

CURL: That's a good question. They are very sophisticated listening arrays that could probably be -- work for that but that's not my area of expertise though.

WEIR: Yeah. Maybe they're down there and they just don't want to tell us that sort of thing.

And Luca, that you say, explain that cone of uncertainty again and how big it might actually be. Let's say they find that piece and it is in fact the wing, how big is the search area in something like this?

CENTURIONI: Well, it depends on what the ocean is at that time. The ocean is mainly doing two things. It is moving obviously in a mean direction. So that's the action with the currents that are going.

The other thing is that because currents are not the same at all location and the results of wind effect and the waves effect obviously would start to disperse and that will create a cloud of debris that is spreading out. And then you have to do two things.

First, you have to locate something and then you have to track it back. And every time you do a track back operation, you're going to introduce the narrow (ph) because we have to use the American models in using data. But there are -- that is something else that propagates ...

WEIR: Right.

CENTURIONI: ... and that creates some uncertainty that becomes bigger and bigger with time.

WEIR: Luca, Chris, thanks so much for your information here. I appreciate the insight tonight and we'll be right back with a great story everybody. Don't miss it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WEIR: Well, after an intense week of missing plane coverage, I'd like to divert for a moment to finish my fill in run with something a bit different.

It is the story of a brave man passed over, a story that went untold for far too long and even with all that's going on, we want to make sure his story is not passed over again.

You see, this week, President Obama awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to two dozen men who should've gotten this ultimate recognition generations ago but were denied because of their race.

Before the ceremony, I had the honor of visiting one of these men in his Florida home and I'd like to take you there now and show you what selfless courage really looks like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: There's a flag out front but that's only a small clue on the kind of man who lives here. There are military honors on the walls inside but framed paper can't really do this man justice. And he is loved by a beautiful family, but even they don't fully know the things he'd seen.

Did you grow up knowing your dad was or your grandfather was a war hero?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You see, that is a tough question. Up until today, I didn't know the entire story. I can't imagine while I look at my grandfather.

WEIR: His name is Melvin Morris and the army didn't have to draft this kid from Oklahoma to Vietnam. He signed up.

STAFF SGT. MELVIN MORRIS: Yeah. We've seen a few guys around, they look good in uniforms.

WEIR: And when you hear the army was creating a new kind of special force, he signed up.

MORRIS: Yeah. The worry around was they were the snake eaters (ph) and the sneaky peak (ph).

WEIR: Snake is a sneaky piece and you wanted some of that.

MORRIS: I wanted that.

WEIR: And these were the green morays.

MORRIS: Right.

WEIR: Barely out of his teens, Melvin saw a lot of action, dodged a lot of bullets but nothing like the morning he walked into a village in September of 69.

MORRIS: The very old day lady I'll never forget she was singing at the par (ph) and she was cooking outside and sung. And I was stunned (inaudible), that was my bad sign.

WEIR: Minutes later, he's dread was confirmed when his captain was shot and his team sergeant killed. He no choice. He had to wait into that fight to get the body of his friend.

MORRIS: And I gave him the last right. He's open up. Then there were two with me got wounded. I have to take them up. And while they were dragging their body up, their map case fell out of pocket. I tell you, I'll threw all the hand grenades so I can get my hands on. Too bad for him and I start throwing hand grenades and I start walking inside until I get to the map case. I get the map case and while I'm doing this, then one of the enemy come up to Murray (inaudible) he couldn't shot him so he shot me. And I hate to say it, I shot him.

That's the first I say it. I don't like to talk about that. And I got up behind the tree and I start throwing hand grenades and I know I got another one (inaudible) I'm going to the details I'm coming back. They were trying to take the tree down. They couldn't come to me -- over me. But they have to find a way to get rid of me and because, you know, I'm going to fight back. And so they were having throwing bullets hitting the back of the palm tree. (inaudible) something to give me a break because they went silent just for a second and I started to run.

I run about I say quarter a mile, maybe a little better because see what I had told my sister if I go down, don't come get me. We can't afford have anybody else killed.

WEIR: As you're pinned behind that palm tree. Are you thinking about your beautiful wife? Are you kicking yourself for going to get the map case?

MORRIS: No. I'm not thinking about nothing but how do I get rid of the (inaudible) that's trying to kill me and how do I get out of here. I'll say well, (inaudible).

BARACK OBAMA, 44TH AND CURRENT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 27 year old Staff Sergeant Morris.

WEIR: After a 12 year investigation, the Pentagon decided that Sergeant Morris deserved the highest honor in the land but never got it because he is black. But he says racism like Medals of Honor was never something he thought a lot about.

MORRIS: In a green beret, you got awarded for what you did. I don't care who you are. What color you are. Maybe some injustice can be corrected and we're on our right track now. So that's all OK with me.

WEIR: I think it's interesting and I know -- I want to respect your boundaries but you say the hardest thing for you to talk about is the moment you shot the enemy who was trying to kill you. Why? I'm sorry. I'm sorry Sergeant. MORRIS: Well, my wife I'll tell you have never -- I never speak about killing. I don't. I was in (inaudible) and a lot of combat but I feel like when you take a man's life you own it. I own those souls. So I don't talk about or brag about that. I don't talk about that, because it's just a sacred ground. I don't go there.

WEIR: What was it like coming back when the war was over and you were back stage side (ph), did you still carry those wounds inside?

MORRIS: I carry them for a long time. Yeah. To be honest with you, I had a difficult time. I've suffered from post traumatic stress.

WEIR: Still.

MORRIS: Still today. Yeah.

WEIR: Yeah. And you were telling me that you go and you throw out the first pitch at the Washington National spring training game. It was a big deal because you ...

MORRIS: I've never been ...

WEIR: ... you're uncomfortable around crowds.

MORRIS: Exactly. And normally, you know, being around crowds I used to have a little help, you know, I wasn't in control until I had -- I went to VA and just turned myself in.

WEIR: Yeah. Yeah. Did they help you?

MORRIS: Yeah. Yeah. That's why I'm solid right now. There are a lot of soldiers that need help with this PTSD. And I know if it can work for me it can work for the rest of them.

WEIR: So I'm just struck by looking at this picture of you, this bright eyed kid from Oklahoma, the whole world ahead of them.

MORRIS: Old and muggy.

WEIR: But known what you known now, I mean, would do it all over again?

MORRIS: I don't regret not one minute and if they tell I'd go back in military today and they need me I'd go. I may.

WEIR: It's an honor to meet you, sir. Thank you for your service.

MORRIS: All right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: Thanks to my new friends at the CNN digital studio for the great animation and to all of you for having me in this week.

The latest on the Flight 370 search with Don Lemon starts now.