A screengrab from a Canadian Armed Forces Operations video released on June 21, 2023, showing search efforts for the OceanGate Titan submersible. Canadian Armed Forces
The submersible, known as “Titan,” begins each trip with 96 hours of life support and has been missing since Sunday, setting up Thursday morning as a key target for finding the vessel and those on board.
The US Coast Guard rerouted some of its equipment to try to pinpoint banging sounds heard during the aerial search Tuesday and Wednesday morning in the remote North Atlantic area. Though it didn’t yield any results, the sonar devices from the Canadian P-3 aircraft are being analyzed by the US Navy, officials said Wednesday.
Here’s what we learned today:
How the sub went missing: The vessel, operated by OceanGate Expeditions, began its two-hour descent to the wreck of the Titanic on Sunday morning. (You can see how deep the wreckage is here.) It lost contact with the Polar Prince, the support ship that transported the craft to the location in the North Atlantic, 1 hour and 45 minutes into its descent, officials said. Search operations began later that day. It’s still not clear what happened to the submersible, why it lost contact, and how close it was to the Titanic when it went missing.
What we know about the noises: Banging noises were identified by Canadian aircraft on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipment was relocated to where the noises were detected, according toCapt. Jamie Frederick, the response coordinator for the First Coast Guard District. But searches in the area “yielded negative results,” he said. Data from the plane that identified the noises was sent to the US Navy, but has so far been inconclusive,” Frederick said, adding that the Coast Guard does not know what the sounds were.
What it could be like onboard: The vessel begins each trip with 96 hours of life support, according to OceanGate – and officials believe the five people on board have “limited rations” of food and water. Ret. Navy Capt. David Marquet, a former submarine captain, told CNN the near-freezing water at that depth is probably making the situation very uncomfortable. “There’s frost on the inside of the parts of the submarine. They’re all huddled together trying to conserve their body heat. They’re running low on oxygen and they’re exhaling carbon dioxide,” he said.
The Polar Prince: The support vessel that brought the submersible to the dive site will remain in the ocean until the search is complete, the operator said Wednesday. Horizon Maritime Services said the Polar Prince’s role is to support the Coast Guard and that searchers are “very aware of the time sensitivity around this mission.” There is a crew of 17 people on the vessel, said Sean Leet, the company’s co-founder and chairman.
Specialized equipment: If search crews locate the missing submersible deep in the ocean, authorities will then face a highly complex recovery mission. A US Navy salvage system arrived in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Wednesday, a Navy official said. The Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System (FADOSS) is capable of retrieving objects or vessels off the bottom of the ocean floor up to a depth of 20,000 feet, but needs first to be welded to a ship which could take a full day, the official said. You can see all of the equipment being used in search efforts here.