The world’s most famous cruise liner, the Titanic, continues to be in the headlines this week, more than a century after it sank, and this time the story could end in a similarly tragic way.
With the world focused on the extremely challenging rescue of passengers and crew aboard Titan, the submersible that went missing while on an expedition to view the wreck of the Titanic, the Canadian and American Coast Guards and other agencies are trying to hone in on the vessel’s last-known location.
A Tour to Titanic Wreck Goes Awry
The 21-foot-long submersible Titan, owned and operated by OceanGate Expeditions, was detached from its guide boat, the Canadian research vessel Polar Prince, early on June 18 as it began its descent toward the Titanic wreck.
Less than two hours later, it lost contact with Polar Prince, prompting the two-country rescue operation to be launched.
The wreck of the liner is located in the North Atlantic, roughly 900 miles east of Cape Cod, where it lays on the sea bed in some 12,000 feet of water.
OceanGate Expeditions operates tours of the wreck, using Titan to bring guests close to the rusting hull of the iconic ship that hit an iceberg and sank in 1912. More than 1,200 passengers and crew were lost in the icy waters.
Five people were aboard the Titan submersible, including British billionaire Hamish Harding, Pakistani entrepreneur Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman Dawood, Stockton Rush, founder and CEO of OceanGate Expeditions, and French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet.
“We are exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely. Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families. We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible,” OceanGate Expeditions said in a statement.
Published reports indicate that Titan carries enough oxygen to sustain crew and passengers for between 70 and 96 hours.
Multiple Agencies Work to Locate Titan
While details remain sketchy as the search continues over a wide swath of ocean, US Coast Guard Station Boston leads the probe by air and sea with Canadian counterparts and the US Navy. Help has also been offered from multiple country agencies and private assets.
The Boston station tweeted on June 20: “The Coast Guard and partner agencies continue their search Tuesday for five people after the Canadian research vessel Polar Prince lost contact with their submersible during a dive, approximately 900 miles east of Cape Cod, Sunday morning.”
“Rescue Coordination Center Halifax is assisting with a P8 Poseidon aircraft in the search. The P8 has underwater detection capabilities,” a tweet from the US Coast Guard said. Coast Guard officials are providing updates on a regular basis, as people across the globe wait to learn the fate of those onboard.
Scientific Aspects of Titanic Expeditions
OceanGate Expeditions’ website states that successful expeditions to the Titanic wreck were held in 2021 and 2022. The current expedition was the first to be attempted this year.
Its goal, besides being an underwater adventure, is to supplement research completed on previous scientific expeditions and to document the condition of the wreck with photos and video.
The company said that its tours of the wreck are conducted in accordance with National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Titanic is undoubtedly the most famous shipwreck in history. The ship did not carry a sufficient number of lifeboats to accommodate all guests and crew, and its sinking changed maritime law, which now requires all cruise ships to have enough lifeboat spaces for every person onboard.