By: Rachael Tan
Authorities have declared that the Titanic-touring submersible that went missing on Sunday while descending to explore the famous wreckage suffered a “catastrophic implosion,” killing all five people on board.
The submersible, known as “Titan,” began the two-and-a-half-hour trip early Sunday and lost contact with its mother ship, the “Polar Prince”, an hour and 45 minutes into the journey.
On Thursday, the US coast guard announced that the tail cone and other debris from the missing submersible were found about 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic. The remains of the Titan currently rest about 13,000 feet deep in the North Atlantic Ocean.
The submersible’s operator, OceanGate Expeditions, issued a statement Thursday grieving the five men on board, including the OceanGate CEO and founder Stockton Rush, British businessman Hamish Harding, French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Pakistani billionaire Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood.
The Titan was about the size of a minivan with just enough room for five adults. Unlike a submarine, a submersible has limited power reserves and needs a support ship on the surface to launch and recover it.
Titans typically spent about 10 to 11 hours during each trip to the Titanic wreck, while submarines can stay underwater for months.
Titan was held underwater by ballast, which are heavyweights that help with a vessel’s stability. They are built to be automatically released after 24 hours to send the sub to the surface, said Aaron Newman, an investor in OceanGate who went down to Titanic on Titan in 2021.
“It is designed to come back up,” he told CNN.
If the five men on board were still alive, these details added to a submersible will be crucial for them to get back to the surface.
“There is a heater in (Titan), so it can heat up a little bit, but obviously that’s not going to last forever,” Newman added. “And obviously, if it’s dark, that’s probably very difficult on your mental state.”
When a submersible stays in deep waters too long, hypothermia can also become an issue, said David Gallo, senior adviser for Strategic Initiatives, RMS Titanic. “It’s like a visit to another planet, it’s not what people think it is. It is a sunless, forever cold environment.”