Intensifying Search for Vanished Titanic Tourist Submersible Raises Concerns
ST JOHN’S – In a race against time, search teams scanning the North Atlantic have detected underwater sounds while trying to locate a tourist submersible that disappeared during a deep-sea voyage to the century-old wreck of the Titanic. The U.S. Coast Guard reported the detection of these sounds, heightening concerns as the remaining oxygen supply onboard the missing craft dwindles.
Robotic undersea search operations swiftly redirected their efforts to the area where the sounds seemed to originate. However, despite the intensified search, there is still no tangible sign of the missing vessel. The 21-foot-long submersible, named Titan, operated by U.S.-based OceanGate Expeditions, lost contact with its parent surface vessel during a dive to the site of the world’s most famous shipwreck.
With the submersible designed to remain underwater for 96 hours, time is of the essence. The five occupants of Titan had until Thursday morning before their air supply would run out, assuming the craft remained intact. As search teams from the U.S., Canada, and France scour an area larger than the state of Connecticut, the fate of the submersible and its occupants remain shrouded in mystery.
The Titanic wreck lies approximately 12,500 feet beneath the surface, about 900 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and 400 miles south of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Aircraft and ships from the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and Canadian armed forces have combed over 7,600 square miles of the North Atlantic, intensifying efforts to locate the missing submersible.
Canadian Aircraft Detects Underwater Noises as Oxygen Supply Dwindles
Among the occupants on the tourist expedition were British billionaire Hamish Harding, Pakistani-born businessman Shahzada Dawood, and his 19-year-old son Suleman, both British citizens. French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Stockton Rush, the founder and CEO of OceanGate Expeditions, were also reported to be on board. However, authorities have yet to confirm the identities of the passengers.
The search effort involves advanced technology and collaboration between nations. Lockheed P-3 Orion turboprop airplanes equipped with sub-surface surveillance gear are employed, along with sonar buoys deployed by the Canadian military. A commercial pipeline-laying vessel with a remote-controlled deepwater submersible is also aiding in the search. Additionally, a French research ship carrying its own diving robot submersible has been dispatched to assist in the search.
While underwater noises have been detected, the exact nature and significance of these sounds remain unknown. Reports suggest that banging sounds were picked up by sonar buoys in the search area at 30-minute intervals, with additional sonar detecting more banging four hours later. However, further analysis and investigation are required to determine the source and potential meaning behind these sounds.
Rescuers face significant challenges in locating the Titan and saving the people aboard. The van-sized submersible, sealed with bolts from the outside, prevents occupants from escaping without assistance even if it surfaces. If the submersible is stuck on the ocean floor, the extreme hydrostatic pressure and total darkness at a depth of over 2 miles pose almost insurmountable obstacles for a sub-to-sub rescue.
The sinking of the Titanic, which claimed over 1,500 lives, remains a tragic event etched in history and immortalized in books and films. As the search for the missing submersible continues, hopes remain that a resolution will be found, bringing closure to this modern-day maritime mystery. – Reuters