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Titanic tour submersible goes missing, here's everything you need to know

The five-person submersible lost contact with its support ship 1 hour 45 mins after its dive and may be able to sustain its crew for up to 96 hours

Titan submersible, Titanic tour

Photo: OceanGate

BS Web Team New Delhi

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A tremendous search and rescue operation has been launched to find a tourist submarine in the Atlantic Ocean that went missing on Sunday, June 18. The small sub that was carrying five people onboard lost contact with its support ship about an hour and 45 mins into its dive, reported the BBC.

Without the support ship, the people onboard the submersible have enough oxygen to last between 2- 4 days, according to estimates reported by coast guards to the media.

The submersible, called Titan, took off the coast of Newfoundland in Canada and began its 2-hour descent into the ocean toward Titanic’s wreck site, stated a report by CNN. The report added that it was unclear why the submersible lost contact or how close it was to the Titanic when it suddenly went missing on Sunday. Search operations began swiftly later that day.

According to the BBC report, currently, government agencies from both the United States and Canada are involved in a rescue operation to find the submarine. Navies from both nations along with commercial deep-sea firms are helping with the operation.

OceanGate and its tour operations

The tour company, OceanGate, issued a public statement on their official Twitter page. The statement read, “Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families. We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible.”

OceanGate offers tours of the historic site where the Titanic sank on April 15, 1912.  According to OceanGate’s website, teams of up to six people can go on a 10-day mission, with eight days at sea at a maximum depth of 3,800 meters (12,800 ft) for the price of $250,000. These trips also include documentation of the wreck site as well oceanographic research in the areas for continued scientific studies and research.

What is the Titan?

Titan, the submersible that has gone missing, is used to survey underwater regions, conduct scientific research, and even used for film production. The Titan is able to carry crews up to 4,000 meters depth in the ocean.

According to OceanGate’s website the crewed submersibles can provide “a stable yet modular underwater solution for expediting sensitive research in deep ocean environments and testing the next generation of subsea equipment.”

Unlike submarines, submersibles require a ship to navigate it from the port, launch them into the ocean, and recover them. According to India Today’s report, the Titan was lowered up to 30 ft into the water on a recovery platform before it began its descent deeper into the ocean. The submersible needs to reportedly take directions and follow instructions given by the overhead ship.

The dive ends with the submersible landing back on the recovery platform and being brought back to the surface with assistance from its support ship.

The same report adds that the Titan weighs in at 10,432 kg and is made of carbon fibre and titanium and has a life support system that can sustain the crew inside the vessel for up to 96 hours.

Furthermore, the vessel can move at the speed of three knots (5.5 kilometers per hour).
The submersible has reportedly gone through 50 test dives and successfully completed expedition missions in 2020 and 2021 to the Titanic site.

Who is onboard?

The Telegraph UK also reported that Britain was “ready to provide assistance” to the ongoing rescue operations after British billionaire, Hamish Harding was identified as one of the five people onboard the vessel.

Other passengers, reportedly, include 48-year-old Shahzada Dawood, one of the richest men in Pakistan, and his son Sulaiman, age 19.

Passengers' names have not been publicly disclosed by authorities; however, the above three had posted about their travel to the historic site via their social media channels.

Harding’s social media post added diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet would also be on the dive with him on Sunday, however, this has not been confirmed.

It is speculated, Stockton Rush, founder and chief executive officer of OceanGate is also on board the missing submersible.

According to the CNN report, rescuers potentially have until Friday, June 23 to find the missing submersible, as the area where it went missing could “pose a challenge.”

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First Published: Jun 20 2023 | 6:59 PM IST

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