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Tourist Submersible Goes Missing During Dive to Titanic Wreck, Sparks Massive Search and Rescue Operation

A tourist submersible operated by OceanGate Expeditions went missing while on a diving trip to the wreck of the Titanic, sparking a massive search and rescue operation in the North Atlantic. The submersible, named Titan, has a capacity for five people and 96 hours of life support. As per the OceanGate website, the submersible is said to provide sufficient life support for a period of 96 hours, which can sustain up to five individuals. The submersible is believed to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023 due to the worst winter in Newfoundland in 40 years.[0]

The Canadian research ship, Polar Prince, notified the military branch it had lost contact with the underwater vessel, according to Coast Guard spokesperson Lt. Samantha Corcoran.[1] The Coast Guard reported via tweet that the vessel's communication ceased during its dive after approximately one hour and forty-five minutes.[2] OceanGate, a Washington-based company that specializes in underwater exploration of iconic shipwrecks, is the owner of the lost vessel.[3]

The missing submersible was carrying one pilot and four mission specialists, according to Rear Admiral John Mauger, commander of the US Coast Guard’s First District.[4] The US Coast Guard is working with Canada's coast guard and armed forces to search for the 21-foot vessel that lost communication with its control center.[2] 

OceanGate has been making dives to the Titanic shipwreck since 2021. Tourists need to pay approximately $250,000 for a visit to the site.[5] OceanGate, a company that offers daring underwater experiences to affluent clients, owns the boat that has gone missing, as initially disclosed by the BBC. The U.S. Coast Guard is also assisting with the search and rescue effort.[6]

Titan, which is crafted from carbon fiber and titanium, weighs 23,000 pounds as stated by OceanGate.[1] According to the company, the submarine is equipped with a “proprietary real-time hull health monitoring (RTM) system” that assesses the pressure exerted on the vessel and the soundness of its structure, serving as a safety measure.[7] At 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 sonar devices to detect possible underwater sounds coming from the submersible.[2]

Approximately 370 miles away from the Newfoundland coast, lies the wreckage of the Titanic, resting at a depth of around 12,500 feet. On April 15, 1912, a colossal ocean liner hit an iceberg and sank, resulting in the loss of more than 1,500 lives.[8] The deteriorating wreckage of the Titanic is in two pieces at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean, about 12,500 feet (3,800 meters) below the surface, off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

This incident highlights the risks involved in deep-sea submersible expeditions and the importance of safety protocols and equipment. While submersibles have limited power reserves and require a mother ship for launch and recovery, they also have the potential to revolutionize deep-sea exploration and research.[9] The search for the missing submersible is ongoing, and the priority remains the safe return of the crewmembers.

0. “Missing OceanGate Titanic tourist submarine search is underway” Fox News, 20 Jun. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/live-news/missing-oceangate-titanic-tourist-submarine-search-is-underway

1. “A search and rescue operation is underway for a submarine touring the wreckage of the Titanic” Boston News, Weather, Sports | WHDH 7News, 19 Jun. 2023, https://whdh.com/news/a-search-and-rescue-operation-is-underway-for-a-submarine-touring-the-wreckage-of-the-titanic/

2. “A Titanic-touring submersible has gone missing in the Atlantic Ocean” NPR, 19 Jun. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/06/19/1183057832/a-search-is-underway-for-titanic-touring-submersible-missing-in-the-atlantic-oce

3. “UK billionaire Hamish Harding on board missing Titanic submersible, family confirms” Sky News, 19 Jun. 2023, https://news.sky.com/story/uk-billionaire-hamish-harding-on-board-missing-titanic-submersible-family-confirms-12905616

4. “What we know about the missing Titanic-exploring submersible” CNN, 20 Jun. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/06/19/us/titanic-wreckage-missing-submersible-search-explainer-intl-hnk/index.html

5. “Billionaire Is on the Missing Titanic Tourist Sub, Stepson Says” Yahoo Life, 19 Jun. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/billionaire-missing-titanic-tourist-sub-184233420.html

6. “A Submersible for Taking Tourists to See the Titanic Is Missing” Rolling Stone, 19 Jun. 2023, https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/titanic-submersible-missing-coast-guard-search-1234774277/

7. “What you need to know about the missing Titanic exploration submarine” Fox Business, 20 Jun. 2023, https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/what-you-need-know-about-missing-titanic-exploration-submarine

8. “Titanic Tourist Submersible Missing With 5 Aboard” New York Magazine, 19 Jun. 2023, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/06/titanic-tourist-submersible-missing-with-5-aboard.html

9. “Titanic tourist submersible missing: U.S. Coast Guard launches search” Axios, 20 Jun. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/06/19/titanic-tourist-submarine-missing-north-atlantic