HMS Echo
The Royal Navy has sent HMS Echo to the Indian Ocean to help verify black box 'pings' Royal Navy

Royal Navy ship HMS Echo has arrived at an Indian Ocean location to help verify potential 'pings' from the lost black box of the striken Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

The vessel has been deployed in the search, about 1,000 miles west of Australia, because of its sophisticated equipment, which includes a so-called 'ping-locator'.

Its arrival came as authorities described reported pings from MH370's black box as the strongest lead in the hunt for the airliner, which went missing on 8 March.

Three separate signals have been detected by ships hunting for the wreckage of the Boeing 777, with two emanating from within just two kilometres of each other.

"This is an important and encouraging lead, but one which I urge you to treat carefully," retired Australian Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston told reporters in Perth.

Twelve planes and 13 ships were involved with the search operation over the weekend as the hunt for the plane's black box intensified as its battery life slowly wears down.