Race Against Time: Search for Missing Submersible on Titanic Wreckage Expedition Reaches Critical Point |

The search for the missing submersible on an expedition to view the Titanic wreckage neared the critical 96-hour mark Thursday, when breathable air is expected to run out.

The Titan submersible launched Sunday morning in the North Atlantic with a four-day air supply. Based on information from the U.S. Coast Guard and expedition company, the deadline to find and rescue the sub is between 6 and 8 a.m. EDT (1000 and 1200 GMT).

Experts stressed that is an imprecise estimate and could be extended if passengers conserve breathable air. Since the sub vanished Sunday morning, their fate is unknown.


The U.S. Coast Guard reported Thursday that a Canadian ship’s undersea robot had reached the sea floor and begun searching for the sub. Rescuers have sent more ships to the site of the disappearance.

Authorities hope underwater sounds will narrow their search, which has expanded to thousands of miles—twice the size of Connecticut—in waters 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometres) deep.

The Titan was overdue Sunday afternoon about 435 miles (700 kilometres) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, on its way to where the iconic ocean liner sank more than a century ago. Since 2021, OceanGate Expeditions has been documenting Titanic decay and the underwater ecosystem around it.

By Thursday morning, it was unlikely anyone on the ship would survive.

Locating the vessel, reaching it with rescue equipment, and bringing it to the surface—if it’s intact—remains difficult. Before the passengers run out of oxygen.

Dr. Rob Larter, a marine geophysicist with the British Antarctic Survey, noted that finding something the size of the sub—22 feet (6.5 meters) long and 9 feet (nearly 3 meters) high—is difficult.

He said, “You’re talking about totally dark environments” where an object several dozen feet away can be missed. “It’s just a needle in a haystack situation unless you’ve got a pretty precise location.”

Donald Murphy, an oceanographer and former Coast Guard International Ice Patrol chief scientist, said the area of the North Atlantic where the Titan vanished Sunday is prone to fog and storms, making search-and-rescue difficult. Passengers also face above-freezing temperatures.

New allegations suggest the submersible’s development included significant vessel safety warnings.

The submersible made global newscasts Thursday at the crucial hour. The Saudi-owned satellite channel Al Arabiya displayed a clock counting down to their estimated air shortage date.

Captain Jamie Frederick of the First Coast Guard District said a day earlier that authorities hoped to save the five passengers.

“This is 100% search-and-rescue,” he said Wednesday.

Frederick said the sounds could narrow the search, but their location and source were unknown.

“We don’t know what they are,” he admitted.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Systems Laboratory’s director, retired Navy Capt. Carl Hartsfield, described the sounds as “banging noises” but warned that search crews “have to put the whole picture together in context and they have to eliminate potential manmade sources other than the Titan.”

Some experts found the report encouraging because submarine crews unable to communicate with the surface are taught to bang on their submersible’s hull to be detected by sonar.

The U.S. Navy said Wednesday it was sending a salvage system that can lift “large, bulky and heavy undersea objects such as aircraft or small vessels.”

Titan weighs 20,000 lbs. The Navy’s Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System can lift 60,000 pounds (27,200 kilograms).

Stockton Rush, OceanGate’s CEO, is missing. Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood, and Nargeolet are his passengers.

According to OceanGate’s letters to the U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, 46 people travelled on its submersible to the Titanic wreck site in 2021 and 2022.

The company’s first customer called his dive to the site two years ago a “kamikaze operation.”

“Imagine a few-meter metal tube with a metal floor. Can’t stand. No kneeling. German adventurer and retired businessman Arthur Loibl said, “Everyone is sitting close or on top of each other.” “No claustrophobia.”

He said a fluorescent glow stick was the only light during the 2.5-hour descent and ascent to conserve energy.

Battery and balancing weight issues delayed the dive. The trip took 10.5 hours.

OceanGate used a cheap video game controller to steer the Titan. The company says many of the vessel’s parts are off-the-shelf because they’re reliable.

Rush told the CBC that the controller is “super durable” and meant for a 16-year-old to throw around. “Just in case,” he said.

Sandbags, lead pipes, and an inflatable balloon helped the submersible surface.

Retired Navy Vice Admiral Robert Murrett, deputy director of Syracuse University’s Institute for Security Policy and Law, said the disappearance highlights the risks of deep-water operations and recreational space and sea exploration.

“I think some people believe that because modern technology is so good, that you can do things like this and not have accidents, but that’s just not the case,” he said.

Race Against Time: Search for Missing Submersible on Titanic Wreckage Expedition Reaches Critical Point |

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