On June 18th, 2023, at 9:00 AM Atlantic Standard Time, a tourist submersible began its decent into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean heading for the wreck of the RMS Titanic. At 11:47 AM AST, the submersible stopped communicating with the expedition ship. Today, it is worldwide news as a massive search effort has begun to look for the five occupants, including a 19 year-old man. Here is everything you need to know about the Titan and its disappearance.
There were five individuals onboard the Titan, a submarine operated by OceanGate, Incorporated. The sub, designed to go as deep as 13,000 Feet or 4000 Meters, has yet to surface since it first dived into the water.
Shahzada Dawood, a British-Pakistani trustee at the SETI Institute and a businessman working for the Dawood Hercules Corporation boarded the submarine alongside his son, 19 year-old Suleman Dawood. With them were Hamish Harding, Paul-Henri Nargolet, and the submersible’s pilot and CEO/Founder of OceanGate, Inc. Stockton Rush.
Mr. Harding is a British Businessman, aviator, and space tourist. Harding has quite the resume, having become the oldest man to reach the South Pole (alongside Buzz Aldrin), has dived to the bottom of Challenger Deep (the deepest part of the Mariana Trench), and holds the record for shortest time circumnavigating the globe from the North and South poles by completing the flight in 46 Hours and 40 minutes.
Paul-Henri Nargolet is a former French Navy Commander and is the director of underwater research of RMS Titanic, Inc. As such, his company owns the salvage rights to the RMS Titanic wreck site and is considered by many to be the leading authority on the ship today.
What is OceanGate, Inc?
Founded in 2009 by Stockton Rush, OceanGate is a private submersible manufacturer based out of Everett, Washington. Founded with the goal of making underwater tourism more affordable for private citizens, OceanGate has been conducting several underseas expeditions to visit the RMS Titanic in the Titan submersible for an overwhelmingly cheap sum of $250,000 in United States Currency. Oh, and that’s per person.
However the Titanic expedition has seen several concerns raised. In 2018, the Marine Technology Society voiced concerns that the OceanGate Titan submersible was not safe for the expedition. MTS, a community filled with scientists, engineers, and technologists from around the world, is the leading authority on construction of maritime vehicles and science, so if they say to hold back, you know it’s a big deal.
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In a message later detailed in The New York Times, Rush had told a member of the MTS that he believed “industry standards were stifling innovation.”
OceanGate also sued former pilot and Maritime Director Mr. David Lochridge for breaching his NDA and making false claims in regards to the development of the Titan submersible. Lochridge had filed a countersuit, detailing he had been fired from OceanGate for bringing up his concerns with the Titan’s ability to operate in extreme depths.
The OceanGate Titan submersible
Here’s some information known about the Titan.
First, the submersible is piloted using a modified Logitech F710 game controller. According to Lochridge, the sub was only certified to reach a depth of 1,300 Meters/4,300 Feet, which is only a third of the depth required to reach RMS Titanic due to a transparent porthole in the bow of the vessel.
The OceanGate sub is built using a combination of Titanium and Carbon Fiber. Based off images recently released online, the Titan is often compared to the inside of an Iron Lung, a device used to help patient suffering from polio and botulism breathe. The confined space can only fit five people at most, and is largely devoid of anything resembling normal submersible equipment.
In fact, the submarine has no onboard navigation, receiving instructions via text messages from the expedition ship. The submarine is also designed in a way where the occupants are entirely unable to exit the vehicle as the only hatch on the sub is bolted from the outside, making escape impossible should the vehicle attempt to surface.
Essentially, the OceanGate submarine is a titanium tube, operated by a cheap controller, with a single window and no way out. It is pretty much a sinking prison.
- June 16th: Expedition leaves onboard the MV Polar Prince Research and Expedition vessel.
- June 17th: The MV Polar Prince arrives at the previously designated Dive Site
- June 18th, 9:00 AM AST: The Titan begins its decent down to the RMS Titanic with approximately 96 hours of breathable air (exactly 4 days of air)
- June 18th, 11:47 AM AST: The Titan misses a communication request following continuous communication every 15 minutes from launch
- June 18th, 6:10 PM AST: The Titan is expected to resurface, hasn’t resurfaced.
- June 18th, 6:35 PM AST: Newfoundland Authorities are notified about the incident.
- June 18th, 8:13 PM AST: The Royal Canadian Air Force launches a Lockheed CP-140 maritime patrol aircraft alongside the Kopit Hopson 1752 icebreaker ship to begin a search and rescue mission
- June 19th: United States Coast Guard launches search missions from Cape Cod, Massachusetts including aircraft and boats to search 900 nautical miles off the shore.
- June 20th: The Deep Energy, a pipe-laying ship, arrives to assist search efforts. The U.S. Coast Guard clears 10,000 square miles as of 10:15 AM. French research vessel, the Glace Bay, sets out with medical personnel, a decompression chamber, and the Victor 6000, a ROV capable of searching depths of 6,000 Meters/20,000 Feet. A Canadian P-3 picks up “banging noises” on Sonar, though they remain unidentified and are possibly from the metal of the RMS Titanic. A “white retangular object” was spotted floating on the surface. However, a ship sent to investigate is diverted to decipher the origins of the noise.
- June 21st: Despite concerns about the remaining oxygen levels, the US Coast Guard is still considering this a disappearance rather than a salvage operation. Further search and rescue vessels are on their way to assist the aircraft and maritime vessels currently on-site.
What To Expect
This is an ongoing story but there are some things worth noting.
First, there are limited rations of food and water onboard the Titan, fueling hope that the five occupants will be found alive. Second, the banging noises have been recorded happening at 30 minute intervals.
Lastly, if the crew of the Titan is not found by approximately 9 AM ADT on the morning of June 22nd, 2023, the crew will be assumed to have perished within the vessel.
Our best wishes go out to all those involved in the OceanGate expedition. Let us know your thoughts over on our social media.