Titanic Submersible Missing: only 3 days’ worth of Oxygen left

A large-scale search and rescue operation for a French Maritime Expert, British Billionaire and Pakistani Businessman trapped inside a Titanic tourist expedition submersible is currently in progress in the North Atlantic.

The Coast Guard officials speculated that as of Monday, 19th June, the submersible has only 3 days’ worth of oxygen left inside, giving the search and rescue operation until Thursday to succeed.

On Sunday, the submersible associated with OceanGate Expeditions which provides passengers with a unique opportunity to explore the Titanic wreckage, disappeared after losing communication with the research vessel Polar Prince.

The Polar Prince is the Canadian research vessel responsible for transporting the submerged vehicle to the location of the Titanic wreckage.

How did the Submersible go missing?

The crew of the Titan submersible lost contact with the research vessel Polar Prince approximately one hour and 45 minutes into its dive. According to the US Coast Guard, as of 17:00 EST (22:00 BST) on Monday, the submersible had an estimated 70 to 96 hours of emergency oxygen remaining.

Who is helping in the search?

The Canadian Coast Guard is assisting the United States in the search for the missing vessel, while the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Boston is taking care of the coordination of the response.

Canada’s defense department has also stated that not only have they deployed an aircraft, but Kopit Hopson, a Canadian coast guard vessel is also providing assistance in the search operation.

Horizon Maritime, a co-owner of the Polar Prince, has verified to the BBC that the vessel is actively involved in the search, and a second vessel named Horizon Arctic has been dispatched to the location as well.

Who is aboard the Submersible?

Hamish Harding, a British billionaire and owner of Action Aviation, was one of the individuals aboard the vessel. Mr. Harding, 58, is widely known to be an avid explorer with several Guinness World Records under his belt, including one for spending the longest time on a dive exploring the deepest part of the ocean.

Prior to this incident, Hamish Harding had embarked on a space journey through Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin rocket company and achieved a world record for the swiftest plane circumnavigation of the Earth via both geographic poles.

Hamish Harding for his journey to space. credit: agbi.com

Along with Mr. Harding, Shahzada Dawood, a prominent businessman from Pakistan, his son, Suleman, were on board the vessel. Mr. Dawood lives in Britain with his family, which is one of Pakistan’s wealthiest.
Mr. Dawood is also a board trustee for the Search for Extraterrestrial intelligence institute.

Shahzada Dawood with his son, Suleman Dawood. credit: bbc

Paul-Henry Nargeolet, the director for the RMS Titanic Inc, is also aboard the submersible. The company holds the rights to the Titanic wreckage and has retrieved artifacts from the wreckage for display. Mr. Paul himself has previously been a part of 35 dives to the site of wreckage of the Titanic.

Paul-Henry Nargeolet. credit: thenweyorktimes

How are they searching for the vessel?

John Mauger, the Commander of the First Coast Guard stated in a news conference yesterday that both aerial and surface vessels are being used by the coast guard to search for the submersible. He further stated that underwater searches are being conducted simultaneously.

According to the Commander, the only technology they are using at the moment is sonar buoys, and methods that enable them to listen to the sounds in the water that may be being produced by the submersible.

CNN has been informed by the US Coast Guard that they have deployed a ship and aircraft, including C-130 Hercules planes, to the search area. Canadian search efforts have also been mobilized, involving both ships and planes.

C-130 aircraft are equipped for extended-range patrols and prolonged missions, capable of remaining airborne for several hours. They play a crucial role in scanning the water’s surface for any potential debris or locating the submersible if it is adrift and unable to establish communication.

Difficulties faced by the search team

It has been reported that due to the submersible being sealed on the outside with bolts, it is impossible for the passengers to escape from the vessel on their own. They have no option but to helplessly wait for help to reach them.

Adding to the difficulties in faced by the search and rescue team, the area in which the search is being conducted is said to be a remote area and where visibility is immediately lost beyond the surface of the water.

Difference between Submarine and Submersible

A submersible, unlike submarines, requires a mother ship for its launch. In case of the missing submersible, the Polar Prince served as the support vessel during the expedition to the Titanic wreckage.

OceanGate, the company overseeing the Titan expedition, previously stated on a now inaccessible webpage cited by CNN that submarines have longer underwater endurance compared to submersibles, which have limited power reserves.

As per the mentioned webpage, the Titan submersible is equipped with 96 hours of life support, and its typical dives to explore the Titanic wreckage last approximately 10 to 11 hours. Submarines, on the other hand, are capable of staying submerged for extended periods, ranging from weeks to months.

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