A massive search and rescue operation is currently underway in the mid-Atlantic for a tourist submarine that went missing during a dive to the wreck of the Titanic. The small sub, believed to be OceanGate’s Titan submersible, lost contact after approximately one hour and 45 minutes into its dive, according to the US Coast Guard.
Intensive Efforts to Rescue Those Onboard
OceanGate, the tour firm responsible for the expedition, stated that all options are being explored to rescue the five people who were onboard the submersible. The cost of tickets for the eight-day trip, which includes dives to the Titanic wreck at a depth of 3,800m (12,500ft), is $250,000. Several government agencies, the US and Canadian navies, and commercial deep-sea companies are working together to aid in the rescue operation.
Challenging Search in Remote Area
The search and rescue effort is being run from Boston, Massachusetts, even though the Titanic’s wreckage lies approximately 435 miles (700km) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Rear Admiral John Mauger of the US Coast Guard provided updates on the search, noting that the area is remote and operations are challenging. The teams involved are utilizing two aircraft, a submarine, and sonar buoys to locate the missing submersible. However, Rear Admiral Mauger emphasized that due to the difficult conditions, it is challenging to conduct operations in the area.
Race Against Time
Rescue teams are “taking this personally” and making every effort to bring the crewmembers of the missing submersible “home safe,” Rear Admiral Mauger stated at a news conference. The supply of oxygen for the crew’s survival is estimated to be between 70 and 96 hours. The search has entered a critical phase, as the seconds tick by for those trapped beneath the ocean. Time is of the essence as they make every effort to locate the submersible and ensure the safety of those onboard.
Notable Individuals Aboard the Titanic Submersible
Among the individuals on the missing submersible is Hamish Harding, a 58-year-old British billionaire businessman and explorer. His family confirmed his presence on the expedition. On social media, Mr. Harding expressed his pride in being part of the mission but also acknowledged the challenging circumstances. He noted that due to adverse weather conditions, this mission to the Titanic wreck was likely to be the only manned mission in 2023.
OceanGate’s Deep Concerns
OceanGate, the operator of the expedition, expressed their deep concern for the crewmembers on the submersible and their families. They extended their gratitude for the extensive assistance received from government agencies and deep-sea companies during their efforts to re-establish contact with the missing vessel.
Details of the Expedition
OceanGate’s eight-day expedition to the Titanic wreck is advertised as an opportunity to step outside of everyday life and witness something truly extraordinary. The submersible, known as the Titan, is described as a truck-sized vehicle capable of holding five people. The voyage includes several dives to the wreck, wherein each full dive and return takes approximately eight hours. The subsurface exploration typically involves a pilot, three paying guests, and a content expert.
Challenges Faced in Communication and Escape
Communication between the submersible and the support ship is currently impossible due to the lack of underwater GPS and radio. David Pogue, a CBS reporter, explained that short text messages could be exchanged when the support ship was directly over the sub, but these messages have gone unanswered. Moreover, the passengers cannot escape the sub on their own as the vessel is sealed from the outside with bolts. Even if they miraculously floated to the surface, they still would not be able to exit without assistance from the crew outside the submersible.
The Tragic History of Titanic
The Titanic, famously known as the largest ship of its time, tragically sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg. Out of the 2,200 passengers and crew onboard, over 1,500 lost their lives. Since its discovery in 1985, the wreckage has been extensively explored. The wreck lies in two separate parts, with a distance of approximately 2,600ft between the bow and stern, surrounded by a vast debris field.
Current Status of the Search
At present, the search and rescue operation is continuing, with hopes of locating the missing Titanic submersible. Efforts involve extensive coordination among government agencies, navies, and deep-sea firms. While challenges persist due to the remoteness of the area and limited communication options, every possible measure is being taken to save those trapped beneath the ocean depths.