Missing Titanic sub updates: Latest on search efforts

According to the US Coast Guard, a missing submersible imploded near the Titanic wreckage, killing all five people on board.

Coast Guard officials said during a news conference Thursday that they had notified the families of the crew of the Titan, which has been missing for several days. Debris found during the search for the ship “suggests a catastrophic implosion of the ship,” said Rear Admiral John Mauger of the First Coast Guard District.

“The overwhelming support in this highly complex search operation was greatly appreciated. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the friends and family of the crew,” said Mauger.

OceanGate Expeditions said in a statement that all five people on board, including the company’s CEO Stockton Rush, are believed to be dead. Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding and Paul-Henri Nargeolet “are sadly lost,” OceanGate said in a statement.

OceanGate did not specify when the company issued a statement announcing the “loss of life” or how officials knew the crew members were killed. Titan’s 96-hour oxygen supply likely ended early Thursday.

OceanGate has been charting the decay of Titanic and the surrounding underwater ecosystem on annual voyages since 2021.

Titan was estimated to have about four days’ worth of breathing air when it launched Sunday morning in the North Atlantic – but experts have stressed that was initially an inaccurate estimate and could be extended if air-saving measures had been taken by passengers. And it is not known if they have survived since the submarine disappeared.

Rescuers fell on ships, planes and other equipment to the place of disappearance. On Thursday, the US Coast Guard said an underwater robot dispatched by a Canadian ship had reached the seabed, while a French research institute said a deep-diving robot with cameras, lights and arms also participated in the operation.

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Authorities hoped for underwater noise could help narrow their search, which has expanded its coverage to thousands of miles—twice the size of Connecticut and in waters 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) deep. Coast Guard officials said underwater noise was detected in the search area on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jamie Pringle, an expert in forensic geosciences at Keele University in England, said even if the sounds were coming from the submersible: “The lack of oxygen is key now; Even if they find it, they still have to get to the surface and unscrew it.”

The Titan was reported overdue Sunday afternoon about 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, as it was en route to where the famous ocean liner sank more than a century ago. OceanGate Expeditions, which leads the voyage, has been charting the decay of Titanic and the underwater ecosystem surrounding her on annual voyages since 2021.

By Thursday morning, hopes that anyone aboard the ship would be found alive were dwindling.

dr Rob Larter, marine geophysicist at British Antarctic Survey, highlighted the difficulty of finding anything the size of the submersible, which is about 22 feet (6.5 meters) long and 9 feet (almost 3 meters) high.

“You’re talking about completely dark environments,” he said, where an object could be missed several dozen feet away. “It’s just a needle in a haystack unless you have a pretty accurate location.”

Newly uncovered allegations suggest significant ship safety warnings have been issued during the development of the submersible.

Broadcasters around the world started broadcasting news at the critical hour on Thursday with the message from the submersible. Saudi satellite broadcaster Al Arabiya displayed a broadcast clock counting down to its estimate of when air could potentially run out.

Captain Jamie Frederick of the First Coast Guard District said a day earlier that authorities still harbored hope of rescuing the five passengers on board.

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“This is 100% a search and rescue mission,” he said on Wednesday.

Retired Navy Captain Carl Hartsfield, now director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Systems Laboratory, said the sounds discovered had been described as “popping noises” but cautioned search parties “needed to put the big picture in context, and they did.” “to eliminate potential artificial sources other than the Titan.” Frederick admitted Wednesday that authorities didn’t know what the noise was.

The noise report was encouraging for some experts, as submarine crews unable to communicate with the surface are taught to hit their submarine’s hull to be detected by sonar.

The US Navy said in a statement Wednesday that it is dispatching a specialized recovery system capable of lifting “large, bulky, and heavy underwater objects such as airplanes or small ships.”

The Titan weighs 20,000 pounds (9,000 kilograms). The US Navy’s Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System is designed to lift up to 60,000 pounds (27,200 kilograms), the Navy said on its website.

Aboard the ship, the pilot Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate, was lost. Its passengers are: British adventurer Hamish Harding; Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman; and French explorer and Titanic expert Paul-Henry Nargeolet.

In the first comments from Pakistan since the Titan disappearance, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Thursday that officials had confidence in the search effort.

“We do not wish to speculate as to the circumstances of this incident and also want to respect the Dawood family’s desire that their privacy be respected,” she said.

At least 46 people successfully traveled to the Titanic wreck site on OceanGate’s submersible in 2021 and 2022. That’s according to letters the company filed with a US district court in Norfolk, Virginia, which has jurisdiction over matters related to the Titanic shipwreck.

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One of the company’s early customers recounted a dive he made to the site two years ago as a “kamikaze operation”.

“Imagine a metal tube a few meters long with a metal sheet for the bottom. You can’t take it you can’t kneel Everyone sits close together or on top of each other,” said Arthur Loibl, a retired businessman and adventurer from Germany. “You can’t be claustrophobic.”

During the two and a half hour descent and ascent, the lights were turned off to conserve energy and the only illumination came from a fluorescent lightstick.

The dive was repeatedly postponed to fix an issue with the battery and balance weights. Overall, the trip took 10 1/2 hours.

The submersible had seven backup systems to return to the surface, including sandbags and lead pipes that fall down, and an inflatable balloon.

Nick Rotker, who leads underwater research for nonprofit research and development company MITER, said the difficulty in finding the Titan has underscored the US need for more underwater robots and remotely operated underwater vehicles.

“The problem is that we don’t have a lot of capacity or systems to go to the depths that this ship went,” Rotker said.

Nicolai Roterman, deep-sea ecologist and lecturer in marine biology at the University of Portsmouth, England, said Titan’s disappearance highlights the dangers and unknowns of deep-sea tourism.

“Even the most reliable technology can fail and this can lead to accidents. With the increase in deep-sea tourism, we must expect more such incidents.”


Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Ben Finley of Norfolk, Virginia; Frank Jordans in Berlin; Danica Kirka in London; and John Leicester in Paris contributed to this report.


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