The frantic search to find the missing Titanic tourist submersible continued on Wednesday after Canadian aircraft detected “underwater noises” in the search area.
The sounds prompted redirected searches by remotely operated vehicles, the U.S. Coast Guard said early Wednesday, noting that the effort had so far “yielded negative results.”
The five people onboard the vessel, which vanished during a mission to explore the wreckage of the Titanic, had less than 40 hours of oxygen supply left as of Tuesday afternoon, a Coast Guard official said, making the bid to find the sub a race against time.
Those on the missing vessel, named Titan, have been identified as Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate Expeditions, the company behind the mission; British billionaire Hamish Harding, owner of Action Aviation; French dive expert Paul Henry Nargeolet and prominent Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman.
What to know about the missing sub
- The submersible, named Titan, went missing on Sunday during a mission to survey the wreckage of the Titanic, which is 900 nautical miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
- The vessel had up to 96 hours of oxygen supply and by 1 p.m. ET Tuesday was down to 41 hours, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
- The price of a spot on the sub, which can carry 5 people was $250,000. It was on its third trip since OceanGate Expeditions began offering trips in 2021.
- The rescue operation is not just racing the clock but also faces an extreme environment.
‘It’s really a bit like being an astronaut going into space’
The harsh and unforgiving environment that rescuers must navigate in the search for Titan can be more easily compared to outer space than many places on Earth.
“It’s pitch black down there. It’s freezing cold. The seabed is mud, and it’s undulating. You can’t see your hand in front of your face,” historian and Titanic expert Tim Maltin said in an interview with NBC News Now. “It’s really a bit like being an astronaut going into space.”
But unlike space, humanity’s presence deep in the world’s oceans is minimal, and the technology for search-and-recovery missions is limited.
The sub’s oxygen supply is the most pressing factor in the search, but it’s hardly the only challenge, said Jamie Pringle, a professor of forensic geosciences at Keele University in the United Kingdom. Scouring such extreme depths is challenging because the seafloor is more rugged than land, he said.
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Only a finite amount of oxygen left on missing vessel
The U.S. Coast Guard and those aiding in the search for Titan are in a race against time, with the vessel having a finite oxygen supply.
The sub had up to 96 hours of oxygen supply and by 1 p.m. ET Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Coast Guard officials said it had roughly 41 hours left.
Rescuers trying to find the submersible are not only racing against the clock, but they also must contend with difficult search conditions in an unforgiving environment.
Aircraft detect ‘underwater noises’ during search
Canadian aircraft searching for signs of the missing submersible detected “underwater noises” in the search area, the U.S. Coast Guard said early Wednesday.
The underwater noises, detected by Canadian P-3 aircraft, prompted redirected searches by remotely operated vehicles, the Coast Guard tweeted shortly before 12:30 a.m. ET.
“Those ROV searches have yielded negative results but continue,” the Coast Guard said. “Additionally, the data from the P-3 aircraft has been shared with our U.S. Navy experts for further analysis which will be considered in future search plans.” A representative said OceanGate was unable to provide any additional information.