Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Coast Guard Says Debris Field Has Been Found Near the Titanic During Search for Submersible
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 10 months ago on
June 22, 2023

Share

The U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday that an underwater vessel has located a debris field near the Titanic in the search for a missing submersible with five people aboard, a potential breakthrough in an increasingly urgent around-the-clock effort.

The Coast Guard’s post on Twitter gave no details, such as whether officials believe the debris is connected to the Titan, which was on an expedition to view the wreckage of the Titanic. The search passed the critical 96-hour mark Thursday when breathable air could have run out.

A news conference has been scheduled for 12 p.m. Pacific time to discuss the debris field discovery.

The Titan was estimated to have about a four-day supply of breathable air when it launched Sunday morning in the North Atlantic — but experts have emphasized that was an imprecise approximation to begin with and could be extended if passengers have taken measures to conserve breathable air. And it’s not known if they survived since the sub’s disappearance.

Rescuers have rushed ships, planes and other equipment to the site of the disappearance. On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard said an undersea robot sent by a Canadian ship had reached the sea floor, while a French research institute said a deep-diving robot with cameras, lights and arms also joined the operation.

Authorities are hoping underwater sounds might help narrow their search, whose coverage area has been expanded to thousands of miles — twice the size of Connecticut and in waters 2 1/2 miles deep. Coast Guard officials said underwater noises were detected in the search area Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jamie Pringle, an expert in Forensic Geosciences at Keele University, in England, said even if the noises came from the submersible, “The lack of oxygen is key now; even if they find it, they still need to get to the surface and unbolt it.”

The Titan was reported overdue Sunday afternoon about 435 miles south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, as it was on its way to where the iconic ocean liner sank more than a century ago. OceanGate Expeditions, which is leading the trip, has been chronicling the Titanic’s decay and the underwater ecosystem around it via yearly voyages since 2021.

By Thursday morning, hope was running out that anyone on board the vessel would be found alive.

Many obstacles still remain: from pinpointing the vessel’s location, to reaching it with rescue equipment, to bringing it to the surface — assuming it’s still intact. And all that has to happen before the passengers’ oxygen supply runs out.

Totally Dark Environment

Dr. Rob Larter, a marine geophysicist with the British Antarctic Survey, emphasized the difficulty of even finding something the size of the sub — which is about 22 feet long and 9 feet high.

“You’re talking about totally dark environments,” in which an object several dozen feet away can be missed, he said. “It’s just a needle in a haystack situation unless you’ve got a pretty precise location.”

Newly uncovered allegations suggest there had been significant warnings made about vessel safety during the submersible’s development.

Broadcasters around the world started newscasts at the critical hour Thursday with news of the submersible. The Saudi-owned satellite channel Al Arabiya showed a clock on air counting down to their estimate of when the air could potentially run out.

Captain Jamie Frederick of the First Coast Guard District said a day earlier that authorities were still holding out hope of saving the five passengers onboard.

“This is a search-and-rescue mission, 100%,” he said Wednesday.

Frederick said while the sounds that have been detected offered a chance to narrow the search, their exact location and source hadn’t yet been determined.

“We don’t know what they are, to be frank,” he said.

Retired Navy Capt. Carl Hartsfield, now the director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Systems Laboratory, said the sounds have been described as “banging noises,” but he warned that search crews “have to put the whole picture together in context and they have to eliminate potential manmade sources other than the Titan.”

The report was encouraging to some experts because submarine crews unable to communicate with the surface are taught to bang on their submersible’s hull to be detected by sonar.

The U.S. Navy said in a statement Wednesday that it was sending a specialized salvage system that’s capable of hoisting “large, bulky and heavy undersea objects such as aircraft or small vessels.”

The Titan weighs 20,000 pounds. The U.S. Navy’s Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System is designed to lift up to 60,000 pounds, the Navy said on its website.

Lost aboard the vessel is pilot Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate. His passengers are: British adventurer Hamish Harding; Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman; and French explorer and Titanic expert Paul-Henry Nargeolet.

In the first comments from Pakistan since the Titan vanished, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra said Thursday that officials have confidence in the search efforts.

“We would not like to speculate on the circumstances of this incident and we would also like to respect the wishes of the Dawood family that their privacy may be respected,” she said.

At least 46 people successfully traveled on OceanGate’s submersible to the Titanic wreck site in 2021 and 2022, according to letters the company filed with a U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, that oversees matters involving the Titanic shipwreck.

One of the company’s first customers characterized a dive he made to the site two years ago as a “kamikaze operation.”

“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,” said Arthur Loibl, a retired businessman and adventurer from Germany. “You can’t be claustrophobic.”

During the 2.5-hour descent and ascent, the lights were turned off to conserve energy, he said, with the only illumination coming from a fluorescent glow stick.

The dive was repeatedly delayed to fix a problem with the battery and the balancing weights. In total, the voyage took 10.5 hours.

The submersible had seven backup systems to return to the surface, including sandbags and lead pipes that drop off and an inflatable balloon.

Nicolai Roterman, a deep-sea ecologist and lecturer in marine biology at the University of Portsmouth, England, said the disappearance of the Titan highlights the dangers and unknowns of deep-sea tourism.

“I think it is important to remember that to us humans, the deep sea is a very inhospitable place,” he said.

“Even the most reliable technology can fail, and therefore accidents will happen. With the growth in deep-sea tourism, we must expect more incidents like this.”

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Surprising Ways and Places You Can Use SNAP EBT Food Benefits

DON'T MISS

Californians Worry About Crime, Setting up a Ballot Measure Showdown

DON'T MISS

The Pickle Flavor Frenzy and Its Rise in Food Trends

DON'T MISS

Kate Hudson Had a Lifetime to Make a Record. The Result is ‘Glorious,’ Out in May

DON'T MISS

Long-Lost First Model of USS Enterprise from ‘Star Trek’ Boldly Goes Home

DON'T MISS

California Leaders Take Sides in Monumental Supreme Court Case on Homelessness

DON'T MISS

Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Hush Money Trial Court

DON'T MISS

McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines Are So Unreliable They’re a Meme. They Might Also Be a Climate Solution.

DON'T MISS

Real Estate Experts Talk Fresno’s Economic Future. Are Tough Times Ahead?

DON'T MISS

Unlocking the Secrets to Fresno State’s Superb Baseball Season

UP NEXT

Ship That Caused Bridge Collapse Had Apparent Electrical Issues While Still Docked, Source Says

UP NEXT

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

UP NEXT

US Intelligence Finding Shows China Surging Equipment Sales to Russia to Help War Effort in Ukraine

UP NEXT

Instagram Blurs Nude Messages to Protect Teens, Fight Sexual Extortion

UP NEXT

College Students Are Flocking to the Marriage Pact, Mostly for Fun, but Some Find Lasting Love

UP NEXT

Tesla Settles Lawsuit Over Man’s Death in a Crash Involving Its Semi-Autonomous Driving Software

UP NEXT

Austin Tells Congress Israel Is Taking Steps to Boost Aid to Gaza as Lawmakers Question US Support

UP NEXT

4.8 Magnitude NYC Earthquake Unnerves the Northeast

UP NEXT

Free Blue Checks Return on Elon Musk’s X

UP NEXT

Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Go Offline in Brief Outage

Kate Hudson Had a Lifetime to Make a Record. The Result is ‘Glorious,’ Out in May

1 day ago

Long-Lost First Model of USS Enterprise from ‘Star Trek’ Boldly Goes Home

1 day ago

California Leaders Take Sides in Monumental Supreme Court Case on Homelessness

1 day ago

Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Hush Money Trial Court

2 days ago

McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines Are So Unreliable They’re a Meme. They Might Also Be a Climate Solution.

2 days ago

Real Estate Experts Talk Fresno’s Economic Future. Are Tough Times Ahead?

2 days ago

Unlocking the Secrets to Fresno State’s Superb Baseball Season

2 days ago

‘This Is How to Improve Reading Proficiency. We Just Have To Execute It’: FUSD Board President

2 days ago

Does Dyer Support (or Endorse) Bredefeld for Supervisor?

2 days ago

Get a 3D First Look at Merced’s High-Speed Rail Station Design

2 days ago

Surprising Ways and Places You Can Use SNAP EBT Food Benefits

Did you know that SNAP EBT benefits used to be called food stamps and that recipients can use those benefits to get healthy food in places o...

10 hours ago

10 hours ago

Surprising Ways and Places You Can Use SNAP EBT Food Benefits

10 hours ago

Californians Worry About Crime, Setting up a Ballot Measure Showdown

1 day ago

The Pickle Flavor Frenzy and Its Rise in Food Trends

1 day ago

Kate Hudson Had a Lifetime to Make a Record. The Result is ‘Glorious,’ Out in May

1 day ago

Long-Lost First Model of USS Enterprise from ‘Star Trek’ Boldly Goes Home

1 day ago

California Leaders Take Sides in Monumental Supreme Court Case on Homelessness

2 days ago

Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Hush Money Trial Court

2 days ago

McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines Are So Unreliable They’re a Meme. They Might Also Be a Climate Solution.

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend