In a race against time, international rescue efforts are underway to locate a missing submersible named “Titan” that was on an adventure travel expedition to take five passengers to the wreckage site of the Titanic.
The international rescue efforts for the missing submersible “Titan” came to a tragic conclusion on Thursday, June 22, 2023. The five people aboard the submersible were killed when the small vessel suffered a “catastrophic implosion.” The United States Coast Guard reported that a debris field, consistent with the implosion of the vessel, was found in the general vicinity of the Titanic wreckage site. The debris was discovered about 1,600 feet from the Titanic’s bow on the sea floor. It is currently unclear when exactly the Titan imploded, but an anomaly detected by the U.S. Navy on Sunday, June 18, when the submersible was reported missing, is believed to be the fatal blast that destroyed the Titan.
The debris included a tail cone, the end bell of the pressure hull, and the aft end bell, components that essentially comprise the totality of the pressure vessel of the submersible. OceanGate, the company that operated the Titan, issued a statement confirming the tragic loss of their CEO, Stockton Rush, who was piloting the watercraft, and the four passengers: Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, British adventurer Hamish Harding, and French deep-sea explorer and Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet.
The debris was discovered by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) associated with the Canadian vessel Horizon Arctic, which began searching for the submersible early Thursday. The search and rescue mission was an international effort involving personnel from the U.S., Canada, France, and the United Kingdom. A second ROV, associated with the French vessel L’Atalante, was also deployed on Thursday.
An updated prediction by the Coast Guard had estimated that the Titan submersible would likely run out of oxygen roughly around 7 a.m. EDT on Thursday, June 22. However, the catastrophic implosion, not the depletion of oxygen, was the ultimate cause of the tragedy.
Summary of Events:
- On Sunday, June 18, 2023, a submersible named “Titan” left St. John’s, Newfoundland, on a mission to take five people on a recreational dive to the wreckage of the Titanic.
- The submersible lost contact with its support ship, the Polar Prince, approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes into its journey.
- The submersible was carrying a British adventurer, two members of a prominent Pakistani business family, a Titanic expert, and the CEO of OceanGate, a Washington state-based company that operates the vehicle.
- The search for the submersible has expanded exponentially, covering a surface area roughly two times the size of Connecticut and 2.5 miles deep. The search involves multiple agencies and nations and employs some of the most sophisticated equipment in the world.
- Underwater noises have been detected in the search area, and these noises are currently being analyzed by Navy acoustic analysts. While it’s unclear what these noises are, there is hope that they are related to the missing sub.
- The submersible is believed to have limited rations and a supply of oxygen that could last between 65 to 90 hours. As of Wednesday, June 21, 2023, this means that there are possibly only a few hours of oxygen left.
- There have been warnings in the past about potential safety issues with the submersible. An employee of OceanGate had raised concerns about the craft’s ability to withstand extreme depths and the company’s reliance on acoustic monitoring to detect flaws.
- On Thursday, June 22, 2023, a debris field was discovered near the Titanic wreckage site, confirmed to contain parts of the Titan submersible. The discovery was made by a remotely operated vehicle associated with the Canadian vessel Horizon Arctic. The five people aboard the Titan, including the CEO of OceanGate and the four passengers, were confirmed to have perished in a catastrophic implosion of the submersible.
In a race against time, international rescue efforts are underway to locate a missing submersible named “Titan” that was on an adventure travel expedition to take five passengers to the wreckage site of the Titanic. The submersible, operated by Washington state-based company OceanGate, lost contact with its support ship, the Polar Prince, on Sunday, June 18, 2023, approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes into its dive.
Carrying a British adventurer, two members of a prominent Pakistani business family, a Titanic expert, and the CEO of OceanGate, the submersible embarked from St. John’s, Newfoundland, for what was supposed to be a recreational dive 12,500 feet below the Atlantic’s surface.
Search efforts have escalated since the submersible went missing, expanding to an area roughly twice the size of Connecticut and reaching depths of 2.5 miles. The search involves multiple agencies and nations, including expert submariners from the British Royal Navy, a team of French specialists on remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and several ships and underwater vessels.
In a potentially encouraging development, underwater noises have been detected in the search area. Navy acoustic analysts are currently studying these sounds, which were detected by multiple aircraft, though it remains unclear what these noises are.
However, time is running out for the crew aboard the Titan. The submersible is believed to have limited rations and a supply of oxygen that could last between 65 to 90 hours. As of Wednesday, June 21, 2023, this means that there are possibly only a few hours of oxygen left.
Adding to the complexity of the situation, there have been past warnings about potential safety issues with the submersible. OceanGate’s director of marine operations, David Lochridge, had previously raised concerns in 2018 about the craft’s ability to withstand extreme depths and the company’s reliance on acoustic monitoring to detect flaws. These warnings cast a further shadow over the unfolding crisis and raise serious questions about the safety measures in place for these deep-sea excursions.
Featured image is a dramatic recreation of Titanic wreckage.