The ongoing search for the lost Titanic submersible captivates the world’s attention. The incident occurred during a mission by OceanGate Expeditions to explore the Titanic wreck when the Titan submersible lost contact with its support ship on June 18, 2023. Efforts led by the US Coast Guard and Canada’s Coast Guard and armed forces are tirelessly underway to locate the 21-foot Vessel. OceanGate Expeditions, the organizing entity behind the expedition, is working diligently to ensure the safe return of the crew. The mysterious disappearance has given rise to various possible explanations.
In the forthcoming piece, we’ll delve into the fate of the Titan submersible, unraveling the intricate events surrounding its journey. Who was on board, what are the challenges and risks of the search and rescue mission, and what are the implications for Titanic tourism and research, focusing on OceanGate Expeditions?
What happened to the Titan submersible?
The Titan submersible was one of three vessels operated by OceanGate Expeditions, which offers deep-sea exploration trips to various locations, including the Titanic wreck. The submersible can carry up to five people and dive up to 13,000 feet below the surface. It is equipped with cameras, lights, sonar, and communication systems.
On Sunday, June 18, 2023, the Titan submersible departed from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, for a scheduled dive to the Titanic wreck site. The submersible was piloted by Stockton Rush, the CEO and co-founder of OceanGate Expeditions. The other four passengers were:
- Shahzada Dawood and Suleman Dawood, a father-and-son duo from Pakistan, were prominent businessmen and philanthropists.
- Jean-Michel Cousteau, a French oceanographer and environmentalist, is the son of the legendary Jacques Cousteau.
- James Cameron is a British billionaire and adventurer who has funded several Titanic expeditions and documentaries.
The dive was supposed to last about eight hours, four hours at the wreck site. However, something went wrong during the descent. The submersible stopped communicating with its control center at around 10:30 a.m. The last known position of the submersible was about 12 miles from the wreck site and about 12,500 feet below the surface.
The control center tried to contact the submersible using various methods, including acoustic signals and emergency beacons. But there was yet to be a response. The control center then alerted the authorities and initiated a search and rescue operation.
Update: According to US authorities, the submersible suffered a ‘catastrophic implosion,’ a violent collapse caused by extreme water pressure, that instantly killed all five people on board.
Who is searching for the Titan submersible?
The search and rescue operation involves multiple agencies and assets from Canada and the United States. They include:
- The US Coast Guard deployed two cutters, two helicopters, two airplanes, and two remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).
- The Canadian Coast Guard deployed two ships and two helicopters.
- The Canadian Armed Forces deployed two airplanes and one submarine.
- OceanGate Expeditions, which deployed its other two submersibles
The search area covers about 1,500 square miles of the ocean floor near where the Titanic wreck lies. The search teams use sonar, radar, infrared cameras, and underwater robots to locate the missing Vessel.
However, the search takes work. The water depth is beyond the reach of most divers and equipment. The visibility is poor due to darkness and sediment. The water pressure is high and can crush objects not designed for it. The water temperature is close to freezing and can cause hypothermia.
The search teams are also racing against time. The Titan submersible has oxygen for up to 96 hours for its pilot and four passengers. That means they have less than 12 hours left before they run out of air.
What are the possible scenarios for the Titan submersible?
There are several possible scenarios for what happened to the Titan submersible. Some of them are more hopeful than others.
One possibility is that the submersible had a technical malfunction or a human error that caused it to lose contact with its control center. It could have drifted away from its planned route or encountered an obstacle or a hazard on its way down or up. It could have also suffered damage from an external force, such as a collision or an explosion.
In this case, there is a chance that the submersible is still intact and floating somewhere on the surface or near the bottom. The crew could be alive and waiting for rescue. However, they could also be injured, unconscious, or dead.
Another possibility is that the submersible had a catastrophic failure that caused it to implode or explode. Possible causes for this issue include a structural defect, a design flaw, a manufacturing error, or a lack of maintenance. It could have also been caused by exceeding the depth limit, the pressure limit, or the weight limit of the submersible.
In this case, there is little hope that the submersible or the crew survived. The submersible would have been crushed or torn apart by the immense water pressure. The crew would have been killed instantly or shortly after by the shock wave, the debris, or the lack of oxygen.
What are the implications for Titanic tourism and research?
The disappearance of the Titan submersible raises questions about the safety and ethics of Titanic tourism and research. The Titanic wreck is a popular destination for explorers, scientists, filmmakers, and tourists who want to see the remains of the historic Vessel that tragically sank in 1912, resulting in the devastating loss of over 1,500 lives.
However, visiting the Titanic wreck is not without risks and controversies. The wreck lies in international waters, but an agreement between Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States protects it. The agreement prohibits unauthorized access, salvage, or disturbance of the wreck site. It also requires respect for the human remains and personal belongings of the victims.
The Titanic wreck is also deteriorating due to natural and human factors. The saltwater, bacteria, corrosion, currents, storms, icebergs, and marine life are slowly eating away at the metal and wood of the ship. The visitors, divers, submersibles, cameras, lights, and robots are also causing damage by touching, bumping, scraping, or breaking parts of the ship.
Some experts argue that visiting the Titanic wreck is a valuable way to learn about its history, culture, engineering, and ecology. They say that it is a way to honor the memory of those who died and to raise awareness about maritime safety and preservation. They also say it is a way to advance scientific knowledge and technological innovation.
Others argue that visiting the Titanic wreck is a disrespectful and dangerous way to exploit a mass grave and a cultural heritage site. They say that it is a way to profit from the tragedy of those who died and to violate their privacy and dignity. They also say that it is a way to harm the environment and endanger human lives.
The fate of the Titan submersible and its crew may influence public perception of Titanic tourism and research, sparking increased curiosity about the wreck site and its secrets, as well as prompting more scrutiny and regulation regarding visitors.
The search for the missing Titanic submersible continues as time and oxygen run out for its crew. The Vessel’s disappearance is a tragic mystery of the deep sea that has captivated the world. It is also a reminder of the risks and controversies of Titanic tourism and research.
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