Missing Submarine Discovered in Wreck Field Near Titanic Site
An underwater ship has found a “debris field” near the Titanic, the US Coast Guard said Thursday, searching for a missing submarine with five people on board, a potential breakthrough in an increasingly urgent effort around the clock.
The Coast Guard’s Twitter post did not give any details, such as whether officials believe the wreck is connected to Titan, which was on an expedition to view the wreck of the Titanic. The search passed the crucial 96-hour mark on Thursday when we could have run out of breathable air.
It’s been estimated that Titan had nearly four days’ worth of breathable air when it launched Sunday morning in the North Atlantic – but experts stressed that this was an ambiguous approximation, at first, and could be extended if passengers took measures to conserve breathable air. . It is not known if they have survived since the submarine disappeared.
Rescuers with ships, planes and other equipment rushed to the site of the disappearance. On Thursday, the US Coast Guard said an undersea robot sent by a Canadian ship had reached the sea floor, while a French research institute said a deep-diving robot equipped with cameras, lights and arms had joined the operation.
Authorities hope the underwater sounds will help narrow their search, whose coverage area has expanded to thousands of miles — twice the size of Connecticut and in waters 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) deep. Coast Guard officials said underwater noises were detected in the search area on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Even if the noise is coming from the submarine, the lack of oxygen is now key, said Jamie Pringle, an expert in forensic geosciences at Keele University in England; Even if they did find it, they would still need to reach the surface and unscrew it.”
The Titan was reported late Sunday afternoon about 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, on its way to where the iconic ocean liner sank more than a century ago. OceanGate Expeditions, which leads the voyage, has been chronicling the Titanic’s decay and the underwater ecosystem around it via annual cruises since 2021.
By Thursday morning, hope was running out that anyone on board would ever be found alive.
Many hurdles remain: from locating the ship, to reaching it with rescue equipment, to bringing it to the surface – assuming it’s still intact. And all of that has to happen before the passengers’ oxygen supply runs out.
Dr. Rob Larter, a marine geophysicist with the British Antarctic Survey, emphasized the difficulty of finding something the size of a submarine – about 22 feet (6.5 meters) long and 9 feet (about 3 meters) high.
“You’re talking about completely dark environments,” he said, where something tens of meters away can be missed. “It’s just a needle in a haystack unless you have a very precise location.”
The newly revealed allegations indicate that there were significant caveats about ship safety during the submarine’s development.
Broadcasters around the world kicked off their newscasts at the critical hour Thursday with Submarine News. The Saudi-owned Al Arabiya satellite channel showed an hour on the air, counting down its estimate of when the air would run out.
Coast Guard District One Captain Jamie Frederick said the day before that authorities still hoped the five passengers on board would be rescued.
“This is a search and rescue mission, 100 percent,” he said on Wednesday.
Frederick said that while the sounds discovered provided an opportunity to narrow the search, their location and source had yet to be determined.
He said, “Frankly, we don’t know what they are.”
Retired Navy Capt. Carl Hartsfield, now director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Systems Laboratory, said the sounds have been described as “disturbing noises,” but warned that search crews “have to put the whole picture together into context and they have to eliminate potential sources of origin.” Human other than Titan.”
The report encouraged some experts because submarine crews unable to communicate with the surface are taught how to strike a submarine’s hull only to be detected by sonar.
The US Navy said in a statement on Wednesday that it was fielding a specialized rescue system capable of lifting “large, bulky, and heavy underwater objects such as aircraft or small ships.”
Titan weighs 20,000 lb (9,000 kg). The Navy said on its website that the US Navy’s Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage system is designed to lift 60,000 pounds (27,200 kilograms).
Lost on board is pilot Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate. Its passengers are British adventurer Hamish Harding, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Daoud and his son Suleiman, and French explorer and Titanic expert Paul Henri Nargolet.
In the first remarks from Pakistan since Titan’s disappearance, Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman, Mumtaz Zahra, said Thursday that officials have confidence in the search effort.
She said: “We do not wish to speculate on the circumstances of this incident and we would also like to respect the wishes of the Dawood family to respect their privacy.”
At least 46 people have successfully traveled on the OceanGate submarine to the Titanic wreck site in 2021 and 2022, according to letters filed by the company with a US District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, which oversees matters related to the Titanic wreck.
One of the company’s first clients described a dive he took at the site two years ago as a “kamikaze operation.”
Imagine a metal pipe a few meters long with a sheet of metal for the floor. You can’t afford it. You can’t kneel. “Everyone sits close to or on top of each other,” said Arthur Lobel, a retired businessman and adventurer from Germany. “You can’t be claustrophobic.”
During the 2.5-hour descent and ascent, he said, the lights were turned off to conserve energy, with the only lighting coming from a fluorescent glow stick.
The dive was delayed again and again to fix an issue with the battery and counterweights. In total, the flight took 10.5 hours.
The submarine has seven backup systems for returning to the surface, including sandbags, drop lead tubes and an inflatable balloon.
Nicholas Rutterman, a deep-sea ecologist and lecturer in marine biology at the University of Portsmouth, England, said Titan’s disappearance highlights the risks and unknowns of deep-sea tourism.
“I think it’s important to remember that for us humans, the deep sea is a very inhospitable place,” he said.
“Even the most reliable technology can fail, so accidents will happen. With the growth in deep sea tourism, we should expect more accidents like this.”