Submersible heading to Titanic wreckage suffered “catastrophic implosion.” Here’s what we know
Written by Roneel Narayan on June 23, 2023
The five passengers on the Titan submersible that was diving 13,000 feet to view the Titanic on the ocean floor died in a “catastrophic implosion,” authorities said Thursday, bookending an extraordinary five-day international search operation near the site of the world’s most famous shipwreck.
The tail cone and other debris were found by a remotely operated vehicle about 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic, deep in the North Atlantic and about 900 east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
“This is an incredibly unforgiving environment down there on the sea floor and the debris is consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel,” US Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mauger, the First Coast Guard District commander, told reporters.
Here’s what we know:
The remotely operated vehicle found “five different major pieces of debris” from the Titan submersible, according to Paul Hankins, the US Navy’s director of salvage operations and ocean engineering. The debris was “consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber” and, in turn, a “catastrophic implosion,” he said. As of now, there does not appear to be a connection between the banging noises picked up by sonar earlier this week and where the debris was found.
The US Navy detected an acoustic signature consistent with an implosion on Sunday and relayed that information to the commanders leading the search effort, a senior official told CNN. But the sound was determined to be “not definitive,” the official said. Mauger, for his part, said rescuers had sonar buoys in the water for at least the last 72 hours and had “not detected any catastrophic events.” Listening devices set up during the search also did not record any sign of an implosion, Mauger added.
What comes next:
The remotely operated vehicles will remain on the scene and continue to gather information, Mauger said. It will take time to determine a specific timeline of events in the “incredibly complex” case of the Titan’s failure, Mauger said. The Coast Guard official said the agency will eventually have more information about what went wrong and its assessment of the emergency response.
Response: Mauger applauded the “huge international” and “interagency” search effort. He said teams had the appropriate gear and worked as quickly as possible. The Coast Guard official also thanked experts and agencies for assisting with the search for the Titan submersible.
Who was on board:
Tour organizer OceanGate Expeditions said Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Paul-Henri Nargeolet and OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush died in the submersible. They “shared a distinct spirit of adventure,” the company in a statement.
Nargeolet, a French diver, was an incredible person and highly respected in his field, said his friend Tom Dettweiler, a fellow ocean explorer. The president of The Explorers Club said the group is heartbroken over the tragic loss. Two passengers, businessman Harding and Nargeolet, were members, it said. Engro Corporation Limited, of which Shahzada Dawood was Vice Chairman, said the company grieves the loss of him and his son. The governments of Pakistan and the United Kingdom also offered condolences.