A missing submersible carrying five people has gone missing during a voyage to explore the wreckage of the Titanic. The craft, named the Titan, was attempting to reach the sunken ship, located approximately 13,000 feet below the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean. The crew was scheduled to return on Sunday evening but failed to do so, raising concerns about their safety.
Specifications of the Submersible
The Titan, described as a submersible rather than a submarine due to its reliance on support ships, is a 22-foot-long vessel with dimensions similar to a conversion van. It can accommodate four passengers and a pilot, with each expedition costing up to $250,000 per person. Equipped with advanced features, the craft has a real-time hull monitoring system, a large observation porthole, external lights, and 4K cameras. To counter the freezing water temperatures, the interior walls are heated, and a curtained-off area serves as the toilet.
What Exactly Happened?
OceanGate, the company behind the Titan, had successfully reached the Titanic site multiple times in the past. However, on this particular mission, the missing submersible lost contact with its support vessel, the Canadian research ship Polar Prince, shortly after launch. With the absence of GPS signals underwater, the Titan relies on text messages from the surface ship for guidance. The Coast Guard reported that the submersible was sealed on Sunday morning, providing approximately four days of air supply until Thursday. However, time is running out, as the submersible is estimated to have about 40 hours of breathable air left.
The expedition has faced scrutiny regarding safety measures. Reports have surfaced about passengers having to sign a “death waiver” that explicitly highlights the potential risks and dangers involved. A journalist who previously traveled on the Titan described the experience as harrowing, citing communication errors and getting lost for several hours during a dive. The missing submersible’s reliance on a computer gaming controller for piloting has also raised questions.
The Missing People
Among the missing individuals are OceanGate’s CEO, Stockton Rush, British billionaire and explorer Hamish Harding, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, and French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet. Authorities from the United States, Canada, and France are actively engaged in a rescue operation, utilizing all available resources to locate the missing submersible and its crew.
As the search continues, hopes remain high for a successful rescue mission. France has committed to sending a deep-sea robot to assist in the efforts. Families and friends of the missing crew members anxiously await news and remain optimistic for their safe return from this ill-fated journey to explore one of history’s most iconic maritime disasters.