A submersible known for taking tourists on a Titanic tour into the deep sea to view the Titanic wreckage is reported missing in the Atlantic Ocean. It had onboard about five people and so far, authorities have chosen not to disclose their identities but confirmed in the process of notifying the passengers’ families. The missing vessel is owned by OceanGate, a Washington-based company that offers underwater voyages to explore the remains of the iconic shipwreck.
To recover the submersible that was on a titanic tour, the U.S. Coast Guard is now working with Canada’s coast guard and armed forces to search for the 21-foot vessel.
“The 5-person crew submerged Sunday morning, and the crew of Polar Prince lost contact with them approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes into the vessel’s dive,” the U.S. Coast Guard Northeast wrote on Twitter. During a press conference on Monday, Rear Admiral John Mauger of the U.S. Coast Guard said search and rescue teams are using aircraft to scan the ocean as well as sonobuoys to detect possible underwater sounds.
“We are exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely,” OceanGate said in a statement, and as per its website, its vessels are equipped with some basic emergency medical supplies and 96 hours of life support. Also, it’s alleged that it takes approximately 2.5 hours to return back to the surface from the seabed. Reportedly, the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration is also aware of the missing submersible and is closely monitoring the situation.
According to OceanGate’s website, its deep-sea tour lasts about eight days and costs $250K per person. Tourists explore from St. John’s in Newfoundland, Canada, 380 miles offshore and 2.3 miles below the surface. In recent years, the company gained recognition for its expeditions to the Titanic and most recently they have created the first-ever full-sized digital scan of the shipwreck. Founder Stockton Rush has been pushing for deep-sea exploration to draw interest in a similar vein as privatized space travel.
However, this is not the first time an OceanGate submersible has gone missing, according to David Pogue of CBS Morning. The journalist, who had traveled on an OceanGate expedition to see the Titanic last summer, recounted that the control room was unable to help the submersible locate the wrecked liner for roughly three hours due to technical issues. Pogue told NPR, ‘The difference this year is that it seems like they lost contact with the ship. They can’t even reach the sub and that’s scary.’
According to Pogue, the deep sea is quite challenging to navigate because there are no GPS or radio signals underwater, and the submersible heavily relies on directions sent by the control center. ‘All of these submersibles have been kind of janky,’ adding that factors like bad weather and mechanical difficulties can greatly hinder expeditions. In fact, the vessels rarely make it to the Titanic, despite the expensive cost of a tour through the wreckage.
In a new update, Hamish Harding, a British millionaire known for his exploratory escapades is reportedly among the five people who went missing aboard the submersible taking a Titanic tour. Harding, chairman of Dubai-based Action Aviation, boarded the OceanGate Expeditions submersible Sunday morning as part of a $250,000 tourist venture to see the historic wreck of the ill-fated White Star Ocean liner off the Canadian coast.
“We started steaming from St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada yesterday and are planning to start dive operations around 4 am tomorrow morning. Until then we have a lot of preparations and briefings to do,” Harding wrote in an Instagram post before departure. Nevertheless, Harding has been part of two record-making trips to the South Pole, the first of which was in 2016 and the second instance was in 2020 when he was joined by his 12-year-old son Giles Harding.
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