The internet has been buzzing with nerves over the past few days as news broke that a luxury submersible carrying several of the world’s wealthiest on a mission to see the decaying wreckage of the Titanic has gone missing. Ironic? Maybe. Terrifying? Most definitely.
Here’s everything you need to know about the current situation and the globe’s attempt at rescuing the vessel named Titan.
It has become apparent that Titan, which has been missing since Sunday 18 June 2023, 400 miles from Newfoundland, Canada, is not going to be easy to find. A hastily tweeted statement from OceanGate hoped to assure the world that they are “exploring and mobilising all options” to help bring the crew and its passengers back home safely. The US military is already assisting in the search mission.
The Canadian research ship Polar Prince was supporting the submersible when it went missing and has been continuing attempts at making contact with the vessel. The pipe-laying ship, Deep Energy, is another boat that was in the area which has moved in to try and assist in the rescue mission. Used to laying pipes deep underwater, the crew will be using cameras to search the seafloor.
Consulting with Sky News, retired Royal Navy Officer Chris Parry has shed pessimistic light on the rescue mission, revealing that vessels like the Titan are “flimsy” and are “essentially kit cars.” Because of this, they face a much higher risk of danger than regular submarines.
It is becoming increasingly clear that due to the remote location of the Titan, as well as the practical impossibility of lifting it out of the ocean without a crane if it has indeed sunk, a rescue may not be possible.
The Titan is only carrying five people on its quest to the infamous Titanic wreckage, including the British billionaire and aviator, Hamish Harding. OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush is also aboard the ship, a man who made history by becoming the youngest jet transport-rated pilot in the world at the age of 19, back in 1981. The 77-year-old French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet is also aboard as well as the Pakistani conglomerate chairman Shahzada Dawood, and his son Suleman.
Given the clientele aboard, and the $250,000 price tag per ticket, it’s clear that this is a pursuit for the ultra-wealthy. How else are they supposed to spend their millions?
Weather plays a big part in the chance to descend into the ocean’s depths, and despite a record-breaking winter in Canada, a slot with optimal forecasted conditions opened up, allowing the sub surface ship and its passengers to make the journey. Nevertheless, temperamental weather plays a big role, and dropping temperatures while below the surface remain a huge risk to the crew. Not only that but it is being reported that the submersible only has 92 hours of reserve oxygen in total.
Another risk to the expedition is getting caught in the debris of the sea as well as of the actual Titanic wreck, which researchers fear may have happened to the Titan.
Journeying 13,000 feet below the ocean was never going to be the safest venture in the world, but there are ways to make it feel safer. Unfortunately, OceanGate’s Titan being described as built like a “kit car” from “Amazon” does little to inspire the confidence one would hope to have in a ship that’s going to take you to the recesses of the sea. Did we mention that they bolt the door from the outside too, meaning that the crew has no choice but to sit tight and hope for a rescue team to come knocking.
Unsurprisingly, all aboard the submersible will have had to sign a waiver, one that allegedly mentioned death three times on its first page. It also specified that the voyage is completely unregulated.
To make matters worse (and internet discourse even more heated), the submersible is piloted using what looks to be an Xbox controller.
I personally wouldn’t stake my life on a vehicle piloted by the same type of controller gamers are known for smashing against their walls in rage induced fits. Would you?
Unfortunately, the missing vessel is yet to make an appearance. Optimistic rescuers had hoped that the submarine had managed to resurface despite losing contact, but this is growing to be an increasingly unlikely scenario as the Titan hasn’t yet been spotted on the surface.
US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger has confirmed to CNN that the search is now “expanding to a subsurface in the area,” confirming fears that the ship is facing a more dramatic malfunction.
It was reported on Wednesday that banging was being detected under the ocean, but researchers have warned that the noise may be misleading and contributing a sense of ‘false hope’ surrounding the rescue.
French researchers have however just deployed a robot arm that has deep diving capabilities, able to dive even further than the submerged wreck of the Titanic. The French research team assisting in the rescue hope to use the robot to comb the sea floor and find the lost submersible.
As of 12:08 GMT, it is estimated that oxygen aboard the vessel is likely to have run out. If the team aboard is still alive, and have been remaining calm and composed there’s a chance that supplies may last long enough for the rescue mission to find something, although odds remain slim.
We hope that the team aboard the Titan are found safe and that a rescue is possible in this scary, gripping tale.