The Stonking Enigma of the Missing Titanic Submersible
An unprecedented incident unfolded on Sunday when a 21-foot submersible, carrying five people on a stonking journey to the wreckage of the Titanic, mysteriously disappeared. The expedition, conducted by OceanGate Expeditions, had embarked on a quest to explore one of the world’s most renowned shipwrecks, the Titanic. Suddenly, the mother ship, the Polar Prince, lost contact with the submersible, named Titan, just 1 hour and 45 minutes into its dive.
Valiant Search and Rescue Efforts
The US and Canadian Coast Guards, along with numerous governmental agencies and private companies, have launched a comprehensive rescue operation. Technical experts have been called in, and sonar buoys deployed to listen for underwater noise. Multiple aircraft, including two C-130s from the Coast Guard and another from the New York National Guard, have joined the aerial search. Moreover, a P8 Poseidon aircraft with underwater detection capabilities, provided by the Canadian Coast Guard, has also been deployed.
The Clock is Ticking
The Titan boasts a 96-hour emergency capability, which gives rescuers a window of time to locate and recover the submersible and its crew. The high seas add a layer of complexity to the search, but efforts are being intensified, with plans to expand the search to underwater areas.
The Crew on Board
The Titan carried one pilot and four “mission specialists” on its voyage. Mission specialists, according to OceanGate, typically pay a fee to join the expedition. The funds collected underwrite the mission, the participation of the science team, and the mission of the specialists themselves. Among the missing crew members is billionaire Hamish Harding, owner and chairman of Action Aviation.
A Peek into the Mysterious Depths
OceanGate Expeditions offer a unique, albeit perilous, opportunity for deep-sea exploration. For as much as $250,000, adventurous individuals can partake in a 10-day trip with 18 dives off a larger boat to a maximum depth of 12,800 feet. During their visits to the Titanic site, teams collect images, videos, and laser and sonar data for scientific study, document the condition of the wreck, and gather information about the unique flora and fauna that call the sunken ship their maritime home.
The Titanic: A Timeless Legend
The Titanic, often considered the world’s most famous shipwreck, was an opulent 883-foot ocean liner. It shocked the world in 1912 when it struck an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean and sank, resulting in the loss of over 1,500 lives. Found in 1985, the wreckage lies about 350 miles off Newfoundland. The ship’s two main pieces, surrounded by a sea of debris, are approximately 2,000 feet apart.
Hamish Harding, a British businessman and adventurer, is notably among the passengers of the ill-fated submersible. Known for his remarkable exploits, Harding holds the world record for the fastest circumnavigation of the earth in a plane, a feat he achieved in 2019. He is the billionaire owner and chairman of Action Aviation, a company specialized in aircraft sales and charter services.
In a testament to his adventurous spirit, a post from Harding’s Instagram account before the expedition announced that he was joining OceanGate’s expedition as a ‘mission specialist’. In the post, he expressed his excitement to be exploring the Titanic, indicating that the journey would be both “fascinating and educational”.
Mission specialists like Harding are part of the OceanGate’s business model, where they pay a fee to join the expedition. This fee serves to underwrite the mission, participation of the science team, and their own mission. In essence, it’s an adventure tourism model that subsidizes scientific exploration.
As part of the search for the submersible, US and Canadian military and civilian assets are engaged in an extensive search and rescue operation in the North Atlantic. It’s a stonking effort, covering an area of over 4,000 square nautical miles. The submersible was last known to be about 1,000 nautical miles off Nantucket, Massachusetts. The search area is vast and the conditions are challenging, but every effort is being made to locate the submersible and its crew.
Given the depth at which the submersible was operating, the search and rescue efforts are complex and require a great deal of technical expertise. The submersible, named Titan, is capable of operating at depths up to 4,000 meters, close to its maximum operating depth at the Titanic site.
Another remarkable passenger on the ill-fated submersible was Paul-Henry Nargeolet. Not just a casual explorer, Nargeolet has a distinguished history with the Titanic wreck. Fondly nicknamed “Mr. Titanic,” Nargeolet has reportedly spent more time with the Titanic’s underwater remains than any other explorer. He was part of the first expedition team to visit the Titanic site in 1987, a mere two years after its discovery.
Nargeolet is no stranger to the ocean’s depths or its surprises. A former French Navy diver, the 77-year-old has spent a significant portion of his life beneath the ocean’s surface. His extensive experience led him to serve as the director of underwater research for a company that holds the rights to the Titanic wreck.
Family spokesperson Mathieu Johann expressed hope that Nargeolet’s military background and calm demeanor would provide reassurance to the crew on board, even though the outcome of the operation was not solely in his hands. Nargeolet, ever the explorer, was already planning his next adventure before boarding the submersible. He had expressed excitement about an expedition next year to recover objects from the Titanic wreck.
David Mearns, a marine scientist who had professional ties with Nargeolet, underscored his vast experience. According to Mearns, Nargeolet’s multiple visits to the wreckage and his extensive understanding of the seabed would have equipped him to stay calm under these circumstances. His knowledge and experience are a testament to his unparalleled connection with the Titanic.
The name Stockton Rush is synonymous with deep-sea exploration. As the chief executive of OceanGate, Rush has made a significant contribution to underwater expeditions and research. He was among the crew aboard the submersible that went missing during the recent Titanic exploration tour.
The OceanGate CEO has a clear vision for underwater exploration. This vision led to the creation of the Titan, the very submersible involved in the recent incident. The expedition began in the mid-Atlantic, but contact with the sub was lost approximately an hour and 45 minutes into its dive. The submersible was in the midst of a tour to the Titanic wreck, located about 435 miles south of St John’s, Newfoundland.
The search operation, run from Boston, Massachusetts, has employed military planes, a submarine, and sonar buoys to try to locate the missing vessel. The Polar Prince, a research ship used to transport submersibles to the wreckage site, conducted a surface search for the sub on Monday evening. As the support ship for Sunday’s expedition, it played a crucial role in the mission.
While the search continues, the British Foreign Office has maintained contact with the families of the three British nationals on board and local authorities. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly expressed his hope for a quick resolution, wishing for the safe return of the crew to their loved ones.
In this challenging time, the strength and resilience of Stockton Rush’s vision for deep-sea exploration are being tested. However, with his unwavering commitment to unraveling the mysteries of the ocean depths, Rush continues to lead the way in this high-stakes field.
As the world watches with bated breath, let’s hope that this stonking story concludes with a safe return for all those aboard the submersible.
Banging Sounds Detected Near Titanic Wreckage
A Canadian aircraft, engaged in a search operation for the lost Titan submersible that disappeared on Sunday following an excursion to the Titanic wreckage, reportedly picked up recurrent “banging” noises originating from the area where the submersible was last seen. These revelations were part of internal email communications from the Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center, as obtained by Rolling Stone.
The emails from DHS disclosed that “RCC Halifax deployed a P8 Poseidon, equipped with aerial underwater detection technology. The aircraft released sonobuoys that detected a signal near the last known location of the Titan. Every 30 minutes, the P8 registered banging sounds. After four hours, additional sonar technology was employed and the banging sounds persisted.” The communication did not mention the specific time the sounds were detected or speculate on the possible source.
Additionally, it was mentioned that “the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre is actively seeking an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) through collaboration with partner organizations for potential assistance.” Earlier reports about the rescue operation highlighted that the Navy’s manned rescue crafts are capable of descending only up to approximately 2,000 feet, whereas the Titanic wreckage is around 13,000 feet deep. If the Titan is at this depth, an underwater ROV would be essential for the rescue.
The Boston Coast Guard, as well as the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, refrained from commenting on the “banging” sounds. Neither the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, DHS, nor the U.S. Coast Guard have responded to media inquiries.
In a subsequent email on Tuesday afternoon from the Explorers Society’s president, it was shared that “at 2 a.m. local time, sonar detected what could be ‘tapping sounds’ at the location, suggesting the possibility of the crew being alive and attempting to send signals.” The Boston Coast Guard, which is spearheading the rescue efforts, has yet to comment on this development.
The Explorers Society’s email also revealed that two of its members were aboard the Titan, and it encouraged members to contact representatives regarding the utilization of ROVs made by a private UK-based company, Magellan. The email elaborated, “Magellan from the UK has an ROV rated for 6,000 meters, which is prepped and on standby to assist. However, permissions from the US Government and USCG are still pending.” The Boston Coast Guard hasn’t addressed inquiries regarding the ROVs being used or the proposal to employ Magellan’s ROV.
Later on Tuesday, a DHS email update communicated that additional “acoustic feedback has been detected, which will aid in directing surface assets and indicates continued hope for survivors.”
Furthermore, the email noted the discovery of a “white rectangular object” in the water, but a research vessel initially directed to investigate was reassigned to study the acoustic feedback.
A commercial ROV will persist in the search throughout the night, with shifts of operators, and “equipment for potential recovery is prepared and on standby,” as per the email. Additional resources are anticipated to reach the area soon, including a U.S. Navy underwater salvage expert and a Canadian Navy vessel furnished with a decompression chamber and medical staff, with an expected arrival no later than Wednesday at 10 p.m.
The Coast Guard informed that the Titan lost contact with its support ship around one hour and 45 minutes into its dive on Sunday. A large-scale search is underway as time is of the essence; the submersible reportedly had a 96-hour oxygen supply at the outset of the journey.
Despite the ongoing efforts, the Coast Guard declared in a press conference on Tuesday that the search has not yielded any results.
- CNN Article
- NBC News Article
- BBC News Article
- Forbes Profile on Hamish Harding
- The Guardian Profile on Shahzada Dawood
- BBC Profile on Suleman Dawood
- The Telegraph Profile on Paul-Henry Nargeolet
- OceanGate Website Profile on Stockton Rush
- Rolling Stone Article