A search and rescue operation is underway in the Atlantic Ocean for a tourist submarine that disappeared on Sunday while diving to the wreck of the Titanic. The submersible, named Titan, belongs to OceanGate Expeditions, a company that offers adventurous travellers the chance to explore the legendary shipwreck more than two miles below the surface.
The US and Canadian coast guards, navies and deep-sea companies are all involved in the search, using planes, submarines and sonar buoys. The support ship Polar Prince, which launched the sub on Sunday, has also been conducting a surface search. The area where the sub went missing is about 435 miles south of Newfoundland and Labrador, and is considered remote and challenging for rescue operations.
The Titan had five people onboard when it lost contact with the Polar Prince about an hour and 45 minutes into its dive. According to the US coast guard, the crew members have about four days of oxygen left. Among them is British billionaire Hamish Harding, who announced his mission on social media on Saturday. He wrote: “I’m proud to finally announce that I will be joining OceanGate Expeditions on their mission to dive to the wreck of RMS Titanic this summer.”
The company said in a statement: “Our entire focus is on the crew members in the submersible and their families. We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible.”
The Titan is a carbon fibre and titanium submersible that can reach depths of up to 13,100 ft. It costs $250,000 per ticket for an eight-day trip to the Titanic wreck. The vessel is operated by a chief pilot and three crew members, and can accommodate one tourist at a time. It is equipped with sensors and technology that monitor the pressure inside the vessel and alert the pilot of any potential problems.
Communication with the sub is difficult because GPS and radio systems do not work underwater. CBS journalist David Pogue, who travelled aboard the Titan last year to visit the Titanic wreck, told the BBC that short text messages can be sent between the sub and the support ship when they are directly above each other. He also said that it is not possible for those aboard the sub to escape by themselves because they are sealed inside by bolts applied from the outside.
The Titanic sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. More than 1,500 people died in the disaster. The wreck was discovered in 1985 and has since attracted many explorers and tourists. However, some experts warn that the site is deteriorating rapidly due to corrosion and deep-sea currents.
Former Rear Admiral Chris Parry, who appeared on Sky News, said that diving to the Titanic is very risky and that the sub could have become entangled in the wreckage. He said: “It’s very worrying. It could have become entangled in the wreckage of Titanic, we don’t know yet. The wreck site is a long way from anywhere.”
Titanic expedition leader G. Michael Harris told Fox News that he feared the worst for the missing sub. He said: “Worst situation is… something happened to the hull… and our fear is, it imploded at around 3,200 meters.” He added: “When you are talking 6,000 pounds per square inch, it is a dangerous environment. More people have been to outer space than this depth of the ocean.”
– Titanic tourist submersible: Rescuers scan ocean as clock ticks, BBC News, 6/20/2023
– What we know about missing tourist submarine that disappeared on an expedition to Titanic shipwreck, CBS News, 6/20/2023
– Inside cramped Titan submersible missing during voyage to Titanic shipwreck, Yahoo News, 6/20/2023
– CBS Story On OceanGate’s Missing Titanic Sub Goes Viral After Reporter David Pogue Got Jitters Over Its “Jerry-Rigged” Design, MSN News, 6/20/2023