Austalia's already stretched maritime safety authority is responding to an emergency distress beacon from a fishing boat 3200km south-west of Perth.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has reassigned a P3 Orion aircraft allocated to the search missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 to find the boat.
The Rescue Coordination Centre has detected a signal from an emergency distress beacon registered to a fishing vessel in the far southern Indian Ocean near Antarctica.
In a statement at noon, the centre said it was not able to establish communications with the vessel and the nature of distress was not known.
The beacon is located about 3241km south-west of Perth and 648km north of the Antarctic mainland.
A civil jet with an Aero Rescue search and rescue mission coordinator and State Emergency Service air observers has been tasked out of Melbourne to investigate the beacon.
It will take five hours to transit the 3,889 kilometres to the location an d will have two hours on scene before having to return.
"The RCC has retasked a Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion from the search for MH370 to fly to the area and render assistance if required," AMSA said.
"The P3 is capable of dropping survival equipment. It will take five hours to reach the location of the beacon.
"A civil jet has been brought in to replace the P3 in today’s search for MH370. A broadcast to shipping has been issued however, due to the remoteness of the location, it is unlikely that any other ships will be near the area."
The weather forecast for the area is extremely poor with low cloud, rain, snow and a water temperature of 2C