Search continues for missing submarine carrying five people en route to Titanic wreck
Rescue workers are intensively searching for a missing submarine carrying five people en route to view the wreckage of the Titanic in the North Atlantic off the coast of Canada.
John Mauger, commander of the US Coast Guard, acknowledged the "challenge of conducting a search in this remote area." However, he stated that "we are using all available means to locate the vessel and rescue the people on board."
Time running out for the rescue efforts
Rescuers have only a few days left to search due to a limited supply of oxygen on the submarine. David Concannon, a consultant for the operator Ocean Gate Expeditions, stated that the submarine has enough oxygen for 96 hours. "32 hours have passed since the submarine left the surface," he explained.
International assistance in the search
The submarine, based in St. John's, Canada, was reported missing on Sunday night, according to the coordination center for rescue operations in Halifax, Canada. A Canadian Coast Guard ship and a military aircraft are assisting in the search, which is led by the US Coast Guard in Boston. The escort vessel for the expedition lost contact with the submarine about an hour and 45 minutes after its descent.
"We are entirely focused on the submarine crew and their families," stated Ocean Gate Expeditions. Several governments and companies are supporting the search and efforts to restore communication with the submarine. Authorities are working to transport a remotely operated vehicle that can reach a depth of 6,000 meters to the submarine as quickly as possible. The Titanic lies at a depth of 3,800 meters.
Retired British Navy Rear Admiral Chris Parry told Sky News that the rescue operation was challenging. The sea floor is strongly uneven, and the Titanic is in a trench. "Trying to differentiate with the sonar and target the area you want to search with another sub will be very difficult."
Uncertain whereabouts of the submarine
Uncertainty surrounds the location of the submarine since contact with it was lost. Alistair Greig, a professor of marine technology at University College London, outlined two possible scenarios. Typically, submarines have a weight that they can release in the event of a power or communication failure, allowing the boat to rise to the surface using its buoyancy. "If there's been a power or comms failure, it could be floating at the surface, waiting to be found," Greig said.
However, he also noted that a leak in the sub's pressure case might have caused the loss of contact, which would not bode well for its prospects of survival. "If it sank to the seabed and can't come back up under its power, then the options are few and far between," Greig said. The submarine could still be intact but located beyond the continental shelf, which would require only a few submarines capable of diving so deep.
Businessman among the passengers
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that British businessman and adventurer Hamish Harding is among the passengers. His company, Action Aviation, confirmed that the billionaire entrepreneur is one of five occupants. "There's still plenty of time for a rescue to take place, and survival equipment is on board," said manager Mark Butler. "We all hope and pray he comes back safe and well."
There is also a Pakistani businessman and his 19-year-old son on board. "Our son Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman embarked on a journey to see the remains of the Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean," according to a statement from the family cited in British media.
History of Titanic expeditions
In 2021, the company began annual expeditions to the wreckage of the Titanic, which sank in 1912 following a collision with an iceberg, to document the ocean liner's decay. At the time of the disaster, approximately 1,500 people lost their lives.
The wreck was discovered in 1985 and is afflicted by metal-eating bacteria. Some experts predict that the ship may disappear entirely in a few decades, and its hull already has visible holes.
In the past, the first group of tourists funded the expedition two years ago with $100,000 to $150,000 per person. The costs have now risen to $250,000 per person. Ocean Gate's expedition this year was the third to the sunken ocean liner.