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Desperate Search Mission Launched to Rescue Tourist Submersible Heading to Titanic Wreck

Desperate Search Mission Launched to Rescue Tourist Submersible Heading to Titanic Wreck

This operation is 11,000 feet deeper than the deepest successful undersea rescue so far. Hopefully, no rescuer will need to be rescued during the quest to retrieve some high-end adventure seekers.

***Will update as information comes out.

A desperate rescue operation has been launched in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean for a technologically advanced submersible vessel carrying five people to document the wreckage of the iconic ocean liner R.M.S. Titanic, which sank more than 12,000 feet below the sea in 1912.

The vessel was reported overdue Sunday night about 435 miles (700 kilometres) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, according to Canada’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Lt. Cmdr. Len Hickey said a Canadian Coast Guard vessel and military aircraft were assisting the search effort, which was being led by the U.S. Coast Guard in Boston.

Rear Adm. John Mauger, a commander for the U.S. Coast Guard, said additional resources would arrive in the coming days.

“It is a remote area — and it is a challenge to conduct a search in that remote area,” he said. “But we are deploying all available assets to make sure we can locate the craft and rescue the people on board.”

According to the Coast Guard, the craft submerged Sunday morning, and its support vessel lost contact with it about an hour and 45 minutes later.

The rescue mission is facing enormous challenges. The pressure at the depth of the Titanic wreck is 380 atmospheres. There are few organizations with equipment that can even attempt such a deep-sea rescue.

While the US Coast Guard does not have such equipment, it has deployed sonar buoys in an attempt to locate the submersible, then direct the appropriate resources to the rescue.

The Coast Guard is also working with military and civilian partners to develop a rescue plan if the vessel is located underwater, Mauger said.

“Right now we’re focused on locating the vessel. But at the same time, if we find this vessel in the water then we will have to effect some sort of rescue,” Mauger said. “We’re coordinating, reaching out to different partners within the U.S. Navy, within the Canadian armed forces, and within private industry to understand what underwater rescue capability might be available.”

It is also a race against time. The submersible has only 96 hours of air supply available. An additional challenge is the inability to communicate with the crew.

David Pogue, a CBS reporter who travelled in the Titan submersible last year, told the BBC about the issues that both the submersible crew and the land crew were likely to be experiencing, saying that there was currently “no way” to communicate with the vessel as neither GPS nor radio “work under water”.

“When the support ship is directly over the sub, they can send short text messages back and forth. Clearly those are no longer getting a response,” Mr Pogue said.

He added that because the passengers were sealed inside the vessel by bolts applied from the outside, “There’s no way to escape, even if you rise to the surface by yourself. You cannot get out of the sub without a crew on the outside letting you out.”

The passengers include the OceanGate CEO and a British billionaire. If they are rescued, it would be a historic moment in undersea operations.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, said the OceanGate Expeditions vessel carrying five passengers, including British billionaire Hamish Harding, went missing at around 9.13pm Sunday, about 435 miles (700 kilometres) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The sub was taking a crew of five people – including OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, French explorer PH Nargeolet and Harding – to the famous Titanic wreckage as part of its $250,000-a-head tour.

If the crew can be found, this operation would be 11,000ft deeper than the deepest successful undersea rescue in history – when British engineers Roger Mallinson and Roger Chapman survived their submersible Pisces III getting trapped on the seabed at a depth of 1,575ft off Ireland in 1973.

Harding is an avid adventure traveler who has been aboard one of the private Blue Origin launches. He noted the brutal weather conditions in the area just before the crew headed out.

Harding acknowledged the expedition’s treacherous nature, noting abysmal conditions in eastern Canada have significantly complicated exploration of the Titanic wreck. “Due to the worst winter in Newfoundland in 40 years, this mission is likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023,” he wrote.

Harding, 58, is renowned for his lofty travel ambitions, with a resume including a record-setting circumnavigation of the Earth, an Antarctic expedition with Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and a seat aboard the fifth human flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket last year.

Harding also worked on a project to launch regular business jet service to the Antarctic, working with a company called White Desert, and also collaborated with the Indian government on a project to reintroduce eight wild cheetahs from Namibia to India, under the auspices of the Explorers Club.

In many ways, underwater exploration presents even more challenges than space exploration. Hopefully, none of the rescuers will need to be rescued during their quest to retrieve these high-end adventure seekers.


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“Hopefully, none of the rescuers will need to be rescued “- No one should endanger their lives under these conditions to save these idiots. No safety measures nor backup plans were taken; even in good weather this was a highly dangerous “mission”. Prayers, but no lives.

    mailman in reply to Oracle. | June 20, 2023 at 9:30 am

    What safety measures or backup planes do you think should have been made/taken? Given you’re obviously a submarine expert of considerable knowledge 🤔

      1073 in reply to mailman. | June 20, 2023 at 10:55 am

      I would have 2 submersibles to start. Alternate use each trip. Failure means a rescue is minutes from discovery of a problem.
      I would have a method of communication. If not an ELF, then detachable buoys with recordings. Would also have an automatic buoy release at 1 hour without reset. So at worst, the support ship would have 59 minutes late of how we died.

      It’s less than 3 miles. Ultra thin communication wire connected to a buoy would provide realtime communication.
      But Stuff happens.
      If a significant event happened at that depth, they were dead. Same as a wing falling off a plane. But now the rescuers are at risk too.

        mailman in reply to 1073. | June 20, 2023 at 11:35 am

        Having two submersibles doesn’t sound particularly practical, even for the military with its endless budgets 🤔😂

        I would have thought the ultimate mitigation against things like this would have been a ban on such dangerous past times given the impossibility of rescue at such depths??

          alaskabob in reply to mailman. | June 20, 2023 at 12:01 pm

          The other submersible could only watch the other one fail. Only Alvin and the Russian Mir submersibles could intervene and that is time dependent. An ROV could work but the planning and execution would also take too long.

          healthguyfsu in reply to mailman. | June 20, 2023 at 4:37 pm

          The price is a quarter mil for EACH person on board. Practicality doesn’t seem to matter. These people would probably pay double to have the extra protection.

          Hodge in reply to mailman. | June 21, 2023 at 10:23 am

          I don’t think that the government has any place here in banning such activities, and in any case in international waters such a ban would be useless.

          Having said that I do believe that the company should be required to have insurance in their country of business registration for reimbursing the costs incurred in any rescue attempts. Can’t get insurance because the cost to risk balance is too high? Well, you can still go ahead, but don’t expect anything more than a token gesture at rescue for the benefit of the press and a nice wreath tossed on the waters.

        Sanddog in reply to 1073. | June 20, 2023 at 2:02 pm

        ELF? Seriously? That’s absurd. First, it’s receive only for submarines due to the power requirements, size of transmitter and huge freaking antenna. It’s also a really clunky system that’s really no better than just sending a ping. It would only be useful for about the first 20-30 minutes of the trip and then the submersible is too deep for it to reach. They’ve been researching extreme depth communications for decades and the technology just isn’t there yet. If it were as easy as deploying 3 miles of cable and a buoy, it would have been done by now.

          1073 in reply to Sanddog. | June 20, 2023 at 6:26 pm

          Sorry, too many movies. Pierce Brosnan in Dante’s Peak had an ELF attached to a robot. Smaller than a suitcase.

    diver64 in reply to Oracle. | June 20, 2023 at 9:32 am

    The sun, like such deep sea craft of that type, has a failsafe in which if something like losing all power happens it floats to the surface. If it hasn’t done so already I doubt there are any survivors but when you embarrq on such adventures you know what can happen and accept the risk

    MattMusson in reply to Oracle. | June 20, 2023 at 10:26 am

    In case of power loss, the sub can be configured manually to float to the surface. Given that there has been no contact and no surfacing, it probably imploded explosively like the USS THRESHER.

    All the ever found from that sub was a debris field of tiny pieces. This sub’s debris would probably be hard to identify among the Titanic wreckage.

Doesn’t sound promising.

    mailman in reply to Whitewall. | June 20, 2023 at 9:30 am

    I think they are fucked. Happy to be wrong but don’t see any other outcome other than the company being sued out of operation.

      alaskabob in reply to mailman. | June 20, 2023 at 12:03 pm

      Given options… implosion would be more merciful. That they have had fault issues in the past, the operation has a somewhat fly by night feel.

A billionaire aviation exec whose company is headquartered in Dubai goes missing in a spectacular manner. I hope this guy wasn’t an arms dealer.

What’s desperate is the news trying to keep viewer interest. That way you can get three stories out of it instead of just one, if that.

E Howard Hunt | June 20, 2023 at 8:58 am

I’m all for rescuing a child that falls down a mine shaft, but this is ridiculous. Who is paying for this rescue attempt? Should a bill be presented to the survivors or their estates it would most likely be disputed in court. Absent a large bond, guaranteeing payment, such adventurers should be left to their adventurous deaths.

    rhhardin in reply to E Howard Hunt. | June 20, 2023 at 9:11 am

    Jessica in the Well, 1987, was where the news media, heretofore a loss leader and then changed to a profit center, found their audience. Soap opera women.

      E Howard Hunt in reply to rhhardin. | June 20, 2023 at 9:34 am

      Ha, not 1987. Watch the 1951 Film -Ace in the Hole. The trapped-down-a-shaft story has been a staple for over 150 years. My idea of the average reporter is somebody who, early on, realizes he is too dumb and lazy to even sell insurance.

    mailman in reply to E Howard Hunt. | June 20, 2023 at 9:33 am

    Doesn’t take too many brain cells to work out it’s the charter company who should be footing the bill for the rescue mission.

    But apparently here we are in 2023 where people are quite incapable of critical thought and instead go straight to hating someone because suddenly it’s a privilege to be alive 🙄

    Sanddog in reply to E Howard Hunt. | June 20, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    Why pays when the coast guard does a search and rescue for a luxury yacht? When it comes to the ocean, things are a little different

Suburban Farm Guy | June 20, 2023 at 9:34 am

The more I read about this, the more questions i have. Mostly, why? These adventurers probably have summited Everest, past all those bodies along the way, in conditions too extreme for rescue or recovery. They have to know about the risk. Necessary part of human nature, we suppose, such drive for pushing the limits

    The signed consent forms and waivers of liability are likely under lock and key in a safe surrounded by two rings, one full of apex carnivores, the other full of venomous snakes.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Suburban Farm Guy. | June 20, 2023 at 4:39 pm

    The answer is because they can. (or maybe they can at this point)

    They definitely can afford to try.

    MajorWood in reply to Suburban Farm Guy. | June 21, 2023 at 10:49 am

    It doesn’t take much training to get into a submarine, so I would hardly compare them to Everest climbers. And true climbers understand the rules. The first lesson of Mountaineering First Aid: You are 911. Nothing is fail-safe, and nothing is hobo-proof.

    I’ve jumped out of aircraft in full battle rattle at O’Dark 30, whitewater rafted the Grand Canyon, dove The Blue Hole in Belize with sharks circling overhead and climbed Kilimanjaro among other things. If you have to ask “why” you won’t understand.

By all means we should do what we can, but this stunt was every bit as dumb as jumping off of an ocean liner or a battleship. People do this, and then we search. Some survive, some don’t.

250,000 $ bucks a ticket. what a waste.

inspectorudy | June 20, 2023 at 11:06 am

The entire sub is run on batteries and I suspect they are Lithium-Ions. I’m sure they have the latest safety measures but still, those batteries have a notorious record. They lost comm and it did not surface which should have been a safety measure. If they had a battery fire that would explain the lost comm and the inability to surface. It would also be the worst-case scenario for the passengers. Almost every company that has used those batteries, including Tesla, Boeing, Ford, GM, Apple, and many others has had fire or explosion issues. Being in a sub with them is a nightmare at 1300 feet. Our nuclear subs cannot go to that depth and I see no way to rescue them. I hope I’m wrong.

texansamurai | June 20, 2023 at 1:08 pm

read an interview with a guy that’s been involved in designing these types of submersibles for over twenty years now–a couple of years ago he expressed genuine concerns over these vehicles being able to surface (in a timely manner) after a major system failure–entanglements with nets, submerged debris, even marine life could hamper / prevent the vehicle from ascending–that’s a bit sobering

he also stated, in a recent interview, that a lack of communication / discernible movement would lead him to believe a critical event had occurred–at the depths / pressures involved even a tiny leak could lead to a near-instantaneous implosion

if that WAS what had happened, it would have been too sudden for the human nervous systen to realize / react

small mercies

TheOldZombie | June 20, 2023 at 2:34 pm

Sad to say but the odds are very high they are dead from explosive decompression.

Looks like they were not yet at the Titanic when communication was lost.

They have a 24 hour window where if nothing happen the sub is designed to drop ballast without human intervention and surface. It’s been more then 24 hours. They are somewhere on the bottom. What’s left of them and their sub, 🙁

MoeHowardwasright | June 20, 2023 at 2:35 pm

This submersible was made primarily of carbon fiber. Very hard to detect with side scan or aural sonar. If it imploded the SOSUS network at Iceland should have been able to pinpoint the sound from the explosion. ( it’s how they found the Scorpion) A catastrophic loss of power and continued uncontrolled descent is another possibility. That could have led to an implosion also if the view port was damaged.
The best way to locate it is using an ROV starting at the launch point (stored GPS coordinates on the mother ship) and using an expanding square search pattern. Right now they disguising the fact that it’s a search and rescue effort. It’s really just a “try and find it” it mission right now. There is zero hope for a successful rescue and recovery. SMH

    I’m guessing it’s still intact and “stuck”. They can’t control where it lands and if the currents took it to the wreckage it could be hung up and unable to move.

      MoeHowardwasright in reply to Sanddog. | June 20, 2023 at 7:28 pm

      If it was hung up over the wreck they would be able to communicate via text. The mother ship launched directly over the Titanic. It’s gone and if it imploded the pieces are very small. Maybe the titanium caps could be found. Everything else, not so much. Oth the Thresher and the Scorpion were 275-300’ in length. The photos show that they are about 50’ of collapsed steel. Bow and stern collapsed to the center.

    Carbon fiber? That stuff is light and all, but it tends to have very poor ductility. Even a tiny defect can lead to catastrophic failure, especially under the extreme conditions one might find miles deep in an ocean. Is a proper load test of the hull even possible? Most metals are ductile and far more forgiving when there is a problem.

angrywebmaster | June 20, 2023 at 6:50 pm

They need to contact the Navy and ask them if any of their systems, (Submarines) might have recorded the sound of an implosion.
The operators might have missed it, but they record everything.

If they haven’t heard anything by now, including someone rapping on the hull with a wrench, then there is nothing to hear. They might find the submersible, but there won’t be much in the way of remains.

    Sanddog in reply to angrywebmaster. | June 21, 2023 at 2:56 am

    The Canadians picked up deliberate sounds yesterday. Tapping or banging every thirty minutes for hours. The US Navy has already moved assets into place. Their Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System arrived in St Johns Tuesday evening. If they can find the submersible, there’s a chance now.

not_a_lawyer | June 21, 2023 at 3:59 am

Deep diving like this is the job of navy, and possibly professional commercial oil company divers and research scientists, not ‘tourists’. It is not a Disneyland ride, in spite of how much you pay for the ticket.

The only reasonably safe way to send a human-occupied vessel this deep is to pressurize it, so that the interior pressure equals the exterior pressure. In this way, there are no serious mechanical forces resulting from a pressure difference between the interior and exterior of the vessel itself. However, such a journey would require the ‘de-pressurization’ of the passengers, which requires days if not weeks in a decompression chamber, something that these rich tourists would be unable to countenance.

My guess is that the submersible vehicle sustained a mechanical fracture resulting in catastrophic failure. 6000 PSI is very serious, not something to mess around with for playful purposes.

I have had people ask me if I would like to go into outer space. My response has always been ‘Hell No!’

I hope they survive, but I have no sympathy if they die. Let it be a lesson for future ‘adventurists’: don’t mess with the deep sea.


    alaskabob in reply to not_a_lawyer. | June 21, 2023 at 3:08 pm

    “The only reasonably safe way to send a human-occupied vessel this deep is to pressurize it, so that the interior pressure equals the exterior pressure.” Ah…. no. There have been tests about using breathable fluids to make the body fully liquid (shown in Sci-fi The Abyss) but the whole body would need this and the bones can’t. Any small pocket of air would bd a crush zone. There are just some places where we can’t go.

I think the CEO’s overall concept embraces what the Left is like. “Inspirational” over reality. Unproven ideas versus reality. Disregard for consequences versus reality.

With the banging detected… power lose versus snagged in Titanic and I now favor snagged. If they can get a REAL submersible down there… peer into the window… at least get an idea of what’s there. 50 yo white guys are going to risk their lives for these yo-yos.

US Navy picked up an implosion not long after it went missing, don’t ask how, and a debris field not far from the titanic has been found. All hands lost.