Thirty-Five Hours of Oxygen Remaining for Missing Titanic Vessel

Rescuers descended on the North Atlantic, desperately searching for a submersible vessel that was headed to the wreck of the Titanic but is now missing with five crew onboard and less than two days of oxygen remaining.

(Bloomberg) — Rescuers descended on the North Atlantic, desperately searching for a submersible vessel that was headed to the wreck of the Titanic but is now missing with five crew onboard and less than two days of oxygen remaining.

The US Coast Guard and the Canadian Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, were on the scene, about 900 nautical miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. France dispatched a research vessel equipped with an underwater robot that can reach as deep as 4,000 meters (13,123 feet), enough to reach the site of sunken passenger ship. 

“There is a full-court press effort to get equipment on scene as quickly as we can,” US Coast Guard Captain Jamie Frederick said at a news briefing in Boston Tuesday.

OceanGate Expeditions, the operator of the mission, is leading underwater search efforts because of its knowledge of the site, the US Coast Guard said. Air searches failed to find any signs of the missing the Titan, a 6.7-meter-long craft made of carbon fiber and titanium. 

The Titan was designed to have an oxygen supply of as much as 96 hours in case of an emergency, according to the Coast Guard, meaning the crew had about 35 hours of breathable air as of 6 p.m. New York time.

The US Transportation Command is sending three C-17 transport jets from Buffalo, New York, to St. John’s, Newfoundland, carrying commercial equipment considered useful for the search, according to a command spokesman. The New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing is assisting the Coast Guard, Governor Kathy Hochul said.

The Coast Guard received a call Sunday from the submersible’s command ship, the Polar Prince, saying it lost contact with the vessel about 900 miles (1,450 kilometers) east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, according to Lieutenant Samantha Corcoran, a Coast Guard spokesperson in Boston. A C-130 plane with radar capability was dispatched to search the area Sunday, and was joined Monday by a Canadian P-8 Poseidon, an aircraft designed for anti-submarine warfare. 

OceanGate Expeditions said in a statement it was “exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely.”

The Titan carries a pilot and four crew to a maximum depth of 4,000 meters and can monitor their health in real time. The system provides “early warning detection for the pilot with enough time to arrest the descent and safely return to surface,” according to OceanGate’s website.

Among those also missing is Hamish Harding, chairman of Action Aviation, according to Mark Butler, managing director of the Dubai-based aircraft brokerage. In a Twitter post Sunday, the company said “the sub had a successful launch and Hamish is currently diving.”

Two other members of the crew, Engro Corp. Vice Chairman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, are from one of Pakistan’s most prominent business families. A statement from the Dawood family said there was little information about what had happened.

Stockton Rush, the founder and chief executive officer of OceanGate, and French pilot Paul-Henry Nargeolet are also on board. 

Harding posted on social media two days ago that the area was experiencing its worst weather in 40 years.

“A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive tomorrow,” he wrote. “This mission is likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023.” 

The guests pay $250,000, according to the New York Times, which first reported the rescue operation. 

OceanGate says it offers 10-day expeditions to the Titanic site, providing “qualified explorers” the opportunity to join as mission specialists, surveying the wreckage and documenting the sunken vessel’s condition, as well as flora and fauna inhabiting the wreck site. The fees underwrite their training and the participation of the science team exploring the ship that sank in 1912 on its maiden transatlantic voyage after hitting an iceberg. 

Everett, Washington-based OceanGate ran expeditions to explore the wreck in 2021 and 2022, according to its website. A photo of a submersible and the Titanic dive operations was posted on its Twitter feed on June 1.

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