The US Coast Guard announced that a missing submersible exploring the Titanic wreckage imploded, resulting in the death of all five crew members onboard.
During a press briefing, Rear Adm. John Mauger of the First Coast Guard District stated that the debris found during the search operation aligns with the catastrophic implosion of the vessel, the Titan. Extending heartfelt condolences to the friends and family of the crew, Mauger appreciated the overwhelming support they have received in the complex search operation.
In a statement, OceanGate Expeditions confirmed the deaths of its five crew members, saying, “We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood, and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, have sadly been lost. These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans. Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time. We grieve the loss of life and joy they brought to everyone they knew.”
Search and rescue operations have seen ships, planes, and other equipment deployed to the Titan’s last known location. Thursday saw the US Coast Guard announce the successful deployment of an undersea robot by a Canadian ship, which reached the sea floor. Furthermore, a deep-diving robot armed with cameras, lights, and arms, sent by a French research institute, joined the search. The coverage area of the search expanded to thousands of miles, twice the size of Connecticut, and 2 1/2 miles deep, where underwater sounds were detected on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Jamie Pringle, a Forensic Geosciences expert at Keele University in England, acknowledged that locating the submersible and unbarring it would still be challenging, even if the detected noises were from the Titan, especially given the limited oxygen supply. Emphasizing the needle-in-a-haystack nature of the search operation, Dr. Rob Larter, a marine geophysicist with the British Antarctic Survey, said it was difficult to locate an object the size of the submersible in completely dark environments.
Controversy surrounded the tragic incident as new allegations hinted at significant safety warnings that had been previously made about the vessel’s development. A previous customer who paid to travel to the Titanic described the journey as a “kamikaze operation,” adding, “Imagine a metal tube a few meters long with a sheet of metal for a floor. You can’t stand. You can’t kneel. Everyone is sitting close to or on top of each other. You can’t be claustrophobic.”