Desperate Search for Missing Tourist Submersible Near Titanic Wreck
Urgent efforts are underway by US and Canadian search teams to locate a tourist submarine that vanished during a dive into the wreckage of the Titanic. The small sub, carrying five individuals, lost contact approximately one hour and 45 minutes into its descent.
The rescue operation is ongoing throughout the night in the mid-Atlantic region, with multiple government agencies, naval forces, and deep-sea exploration companies lending assistance. Despite their combined efforts, there have been no signs of the missing vessel thus far.
Concerns are mounting as the crew members, including British billionaire businessman and explorer Hamish Harding, are believed to have only around four days’ worth of oxygen remaining. Rear Adm, John Mauger of the US Coast Guard emphasized the immediate focus on deploying as much search capability as possible during a press conference.
Military aircraft, submarines, and sonar buoys have been deployed thus far to scour the area for any trace of the submersible. While the Titanic’s wreck is located approximately 435 miles (700km) south of St John’s, Newfoundland, the rescue mission is being coordinated from Boston, Massachusetts.
The US Coast Guard reported that Polar Prince’s research vessel conducted a surface search for the missing sub on Monday evening. This ship transported submersibles to the wreckage site and acted as the support vessel for Sunday’s ill-fated tourist expedition.
It is believed that the missing craft is OceanGate’s Titan submersible, the same vessel journalist David Pogue of CBS traveled aboard last year to reach the Titanic wreckage. Unfortunately, underwater communication via GPS or radio systems is not feasible, as neither technology functions effectively at such depths.
Pogue further explained that self-escape is impossible for those inside the sub, as externally applied bolts securely seal them.
The race against time continues as search and rescue teams strive to locate the missing tourist submersible and bring its occupants to safety amidst the unforgiving depths of the ocean.
Remote Search Operation for Missing Tourist Submersible Complicated by Limited Visibility
Rear Adm Mauger acknowledged the challenging nature of the search area, describing it as “remote,” which adds to the difficulties faced by the rescue teams.
Furthermore, as light struggles to penetrate the depths of the water, visibility rapidly diminishes beneath the surface.
OceanGate, the owner of the submersibles, lists three vessels in its fleet, with only the Titan capable of reaching the depths required to access the Titanic wreckage.
Weighing 23,000 lbs (10,432 kg), the Titan boasts a maximum diving capability of 13,100 ft, as stated on the company’s website.
Tickets for the eight-day excursion, which includes dives to the wreck at a depth of 3,800m (12,500ft), come at a price of $250,000 (£195,000).
In a social media post over the weekend, Mr. Harding expressed his pride in joining the mission to the Titanic wreckage. He also mentioned that due to challenging weather conditions, this mission will likely be the sole manned expedition to the site in 2023.
He later shared news of a weather window opening up, indicating plans for a dive the following day.
OceanGate confirmed the loss of communication with one of its submersibles and expressed its primary focus on the crew’s and their families’ well-being.
The company expressed deep gratitude for the extensive assistance received from various government agencies and deep-sea exploration companies to reestablish contact with the submersible.
Promoting the eight-day journey aboard its carbon-fiber submersible as an extraordinary escape from everyday life, OceanGate sets sail from St John’s in Newfoundland. Each full dive to the wreck, encompassing descent and ascent, reportedly takes approximately eight hours.
According to their website, one expedition is underway, with two more planned for June 2024.
In 1912, the Titanic, the largest ship of its time, tragically struck an iceberg on its inaugural voyage from Southampton to New York, resulting in the loss of over 1,500 lives out of the 2,200 passengers and crew onboard.
Since its discovery in 1985, extensive wreck exploration has occurred. The ship’s remains lie in two parts, with a substantial debris field surrounding the fractured vessel.
In recent developments, a comprehensive digital scan of the wreck was created using deep-sea mapping techniques last month. This scan provides a detailed representation of the ship’s scale and includes minute features such as the serial number on one of the propellers.