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Commercial Submersible Goes Missing on Dive to the RMS Titanic

Titanic bow is seen during a dive at the resting place of the Titanic's wreck, July, 1986. WHOI Archives/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution/Handout via REUTERS

Commercial Submersible Goes Missing on Dive to the RMS Titanic

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 5954
June 19, 2023

A commercially-operated submarine, which takes paying paying passengers to visit the infamous wreck of the RMS Titanic, has gone missing in the Atlantic Ocean. A search and rescue mission, which included the U.S. Coast Guard, has been launched to locate the five people on board.

The submersible is operated by Everett, Washington-based Oceangate Expeditions Inc.

The U.S. Coast Guard said contact was lost with the vessel on Sunday about 1 hour and 45 minutes into its dive with five people on board, including one crew member and four passengers.

Multiple search and rescue assets from the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards were headed to the area.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s 1st District launched a search with a C-130 aircraft. “Rescue Coordination Center Halifax is assisting with a P8 Poseidon aircraft in the search. The P8 has underwater detection capabilities,” it said.

The Coast Guard is coordinating with the Canadian Coast Guard along with commercial shipping in the search.

OceanGate Expeditions’ submersible Titan. Photo courtesy OceanGate Expeditions

Oceangate, which led successful expeditions to the wreck in 2021 and 2022, had been posting about this year’s Titanic expedition on social media. The company said in a brief statement on Monday that it was “exploring and mobilizing all options” to rescue those on board the vessel. 

“Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families,” the statement said. “We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible.”

“We are working toward the safe return of the crewmembers.”

Dives are performed by Oceangate’s Titan, a five-person (1 crew + 4 passengers) submersible capable of operating to water depths of 4,000 meters.

Horizon Maritime’s vessel Polar Prince was serving as the support vessel during this year’s expedition.

The wreck of the Titanic is located at a depth of approximately 12,500 feet (3,800 meters), approximately 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. The ship sank on April 15, 1912, after colliding with an iceberg during its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City.

BBC reports that passengers are charged $250,000 per person for an 8-day expedition to the Titanic.

Oceangate’s dives to the site are conducted in accordance with NOAA Guidelines for Research Exploration and Salvage of RMS Titanic, and comply with UNESCO guidelines for the preservation of underwater world heritage sites.

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