A significant search and rescue operation is currently underway in the mid-Atlantic after a tourist submarine has gone missing during a dive to explore the wreckage of the Titanic.
The RMS Titanic was a renowned ship that sank in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during its maiden voyage. Its wreckage was discovered in 1985.
With a tragic loss of approximately 1,500 lives, the ship’s wreckage rests at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, captivating people and inspiring scientific exploration to uncover new insights into its history.
But one tour to see the wreckage has now been shrouded in mystery.
Learn more about the missing Titanic tourist submarine below…
The US Coast Guard reported the loss of contact with the small sub approximately one hour and 45 minutes into its dive.
OceanGate, the tour firm responsible for the expedition, said that all possible options were being explored to rescue the five individuals who were on board.
The tickets for this eight-day trip, which included dives to the Titanic wreck at a depth of 3,800 meters (12,500 feet), were priced at $250,000 (£195,000).
Government agencies, along with the US and Canadian navies and commercial deep-sea firms, are collaborating to assist in the rescue operation, according to officials.
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Although the wreckage of the Titanic is situated around 435 miles (700 kilometres) south of St John’s, Newfoundland, the rescue mission is being coordinated from Boston, Massachusetts.
The missing submarine is believed to be OceanGate’s Titan, a truck-sized sub designed to accommodate five people and typically equipped with a four-day emergency supply of oxygen.
Rear Admiral John Mauger of the US Coast Guard announced during a press conference that they estimated having somewhere between 70 and the full 96 hours to conduct the search.
Efforts to locate the vessel involve two aircraft, a submarine, and sonar buoys.
However, Rear Admiral Mauger acknowledged the challenges posed by the remote nature of the search area, which complicates operations.
— OceanGate Expeditions (@OceanGateExped) June 19, 2023
Harding had expressed his excitement on social media prior to the mission, stating that this would likely be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023 due to the adverse winter conditions in Newfoundland.
OceanGate emphasised that their primary focus was on the well-being of the crew members in the submersible and their families.
They added in a statement: “We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to re-establish contact with the submersible.”
Described as an opportunity to step outside of everyday life and embark on an extraordinary journey, OceanGate’s eight-day carbon-fibre submersible expedition has an ongoing voyage and two more planned for June 2024.
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The submersible typically carries a pilot, three paying guests, and a content expert.
Departing from St John’s in Newfoundland, each full dive to the Titanic wreck, including the descent and ascent, reportedly takes around eight hours.
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Among the three submersibles listed on OceanGate’s website, only the Titan is capable of diving deep enough to reach the Titanic wreckage, weighing 23,000 pounds (10,432 kilograms) and offering 96 hours of life support for a crew of five.
The Polar Prince, a vessel involved in transporting submersibles to the wreckage site, was also engaged in this expedition, as confirmed by its owner to the BBC.
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