The multinational search team crisscrossed the sea and skies above the century-old wreck of the Titanic for a fifth day today, trying to find a tourist submersible that went missing with five people aboard. Time is crucial for the missing crew if they are still alive. The Titan, which started with about 96 hours of air in case of an emergency, is estimated to have less than 4 hours left. Its crew is also believed to have limited rations on board.
Even though there was no communication with the submarine since it dove Sunday morning, officials said they were still hoping for recovery. The US Coast Guard and its partners, including the Canadian coast guard and a Navy vessel, have now searched an area twice the size of Connecticut in waters up to 13,000 feet deep. This morning, an additional search ship with remote operating capabilities, a French research vessel, and a British submersible were en route.
If the Titan is still in the area where it was last known to be, a remotely operated vehicle on the search vessel Magellan should be able to locate it, according to US Coast Guard Capt. Jamie Frederick. “This is a very complex search, and it will require a lot of work and effort,” he said.
He said the unified search team was working around the clock. A spokesman for the company that owned the sub, OceanGate Expeditions, said the crew had been notified of the loss by a text message. He said the Titan was a unique carbon fiber vehicle with a dome on both ends. It had space inside about the size of a minivan and a steering system that used a video game controller.
A former US Navy nuclear submarine commander told Sky News that he finds it “concerning that they haven’t found it yet.” The hunt, he said, is like “searching a football pitch with a magnifying glass.”
He added that if the Titan is not on the surface and is submerged at a depth where the pressure is so great that it compresses the air molecules, its chances of survival are slim. That could happen as soon as Thursday, he said.
If the Titan surfaces, it is sealed with bolts from the outside and can only be opened with a great deal of work and equipment. It would also need to be lifted back up on the surface, which is possible if there is no significant damage or it can reach a surface where the atmosphere is less dense.
The US Coast Guard has been using sonar buoys to monitor the Titan’s location in an area that is a mix of salt and fresh water. Rear Admiral John Mauger, overseeing the search, said the Titan is about 4,500 feet below the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The search is about 400 miles from Newfoundland and 900 miles off Massachusetts.