Missing Titanic submersible is running out of oxygen

As of Monday afternoon, it was thought the crew members had four days-worth of oxygen left at most.
Sejal Sharma
Minutes before the sub was launched
Minutes before the sub was launched


Rescuers are racing against time in a massive search and rescue operation to locate a submersible that went missing during a dive to the wreck of the Titanic on Sunday, with five passengers on board. 

The submersible dove with a four-day supply of oxygen on Sunday afternoon. It is estimated that there are about 70 more hours of oxygen left on the vessel.

Last contact

The US Coast Guard also said that the submersible's support ship, the Polar Prince, which takes the passengers and the submersible to the wreckage site, had conducted a surface search for the sub on Monday evening.

The expedition is organized by a company called OceanGate, which facilitates tourists to see up close the Titanic wreckage 12,500 feet under the sea.

The missing craft is believed to be OceanGate's Titan submersible, a truck-sized sub.

Government agencies, the US and Canadian navies, and commercial deep-sea firms are helping the rescue operation, officials told the BBC.

The Titanic's wreckage lies some 435 miles (700km) south of St John's, Newfoundland in Canada. The rescue mission is being run from Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.

CBS journalist David Pogue who traveled aboard the Titan submersible last year, told the BBC that when the support ship, Polar Prince, is directly above the sub, short text messages can be sent between the two.

Otherwise, communication via GPS or radio systems is not available as neither work underwater.

Writer-producer Mike Reiss who took a trip on the Titan sub last year, told the BBC: "You sign a massive waiver that lists one way after another that you could die on the trip. They mention death three times on page one so it's never far from your mind."

According to the vessel’s itinerary, which is no longer available on OceanGate’s website, there’s an operator and four mission specialists (passengers) that go on the eight-day expedition which takes place five times in a year, as per a CNN report.

Day 1 of the expedition involves divers arriving at St John’s and boarding the Polar Prince.

On Day 2, as the ship journeys to reach the diving site in the North Atlantic Ocean, the science team helps the divers prepare. From Day 3 to 7, crew members board the Titan vessel and the diving begins. On Day 8, the divers and the team arrive back at St John’s via the ship.

According to the archived version of the itinerary, five more such expeditions were planned for 2024.

Experts are suspecting that several things could have gone wrong, like the sub could have become tangled in the wreckage of the Titanic, a power failure might have taken out the electricity on board, or there might have been an issue with the sub’s communications system, as per a report by The Guardian.

Who is on board?

Interesting Engineering had reported earlier that Hamish Harding, a 58-year-old British explorer and businessman is aboard the vessel. The chairman of aircraft firm Action Aviation had announced on Twitter before boarding Titan.

Two other passengers believed to be onboard are a trustee at the SETI Institute, Shahzada Dawood, and his son Suleman.

Dawood reportedly belongs to one of the richest families in Pakistan.

BBC reported that Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate is on the craft as well, along with 77-year-old French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet, a former French navy commander known as "Mr Titanic".

The incident has left the deep sea exploration community "shattered", Canadian scientist and veteran explorer Joe MacInnis told The Guardian. MacInnis was a member of the first expedition to locate the wreck of the Titanic in 1985.

IE will bring you more updates on the search and rescue mission as we find them.

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