A submersible carrying five people to the Titanic imploded near the site of the shipwreck and killed everyone on board, authorities said Thursday, bringing a tragic end to a saga that included an urgent around-the-clock search and a worldwide vigil for the missing vessel.
The sliver of hope that remained for finding the five men alive was wiped away early Thursday, when the submersible’s 96-hour supply of oxygen was expected to run out following its Sunday launch and the Coast Guard announced that debris had been found roughly 1,600 feet (488 meters) from the Titanic in North Atlantic waters.
“This was a catastrophic implosion of the vessel,” said Rear Adm. John Mauger, of the First Coast Guard District.
After the craft was reported missing, the U.S. Navy went back and analyzed its acoustic data and found an anomaly that was “consistent with an implosion or explosion in the general vicinity of where the Titan submersible was operating when communications were lost,” a senior Navy official told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive acoustic detection system.
The Navy passed on that information to the Coast Guard, which continued its search because the Navy did not consider the data to be definitive.
OceanGate Expeditions, the company that owned and operated the submersible, said in a statement that all five people in the vessel, including CEO and pilot Stockton Rush, “have sadly been lost.”
The others on board were two members of a prominent Pakistani family, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood; British adventurer Hamish Harding; and Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet.
“These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans,” OceanGate said in a statement. “We grieve the loss of life and joy they brought to everyone they knew.”
OceanGate has been chronicling the Titanic’s decay and the underwater ecosystem around it via yearly voyages since 2021. The company has not responded to additional questions about the Titan's voyage this week.
The Coast Guard will continue searching for more signs about what happened to the Titan.
While the Navy likely detected the implosion Sunday through its acoustics system, underwater sounds heard Tuesday and Wednesday — which initially gave hope for a possible rescue — were probably unrelated to the submersible. The Navy's possible clue was not known publicly until Thursday, when The Wall Street Journal first reported it.
With a search area covering thousands of miles — twice the size of Connecticut and in waters 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) deep — rescuers all week rushed ships, planes and other equipment to the site of the disappearance.
Broadcasters around the world started newscasts at the critical hour Thursday with news of the submersible. The Saudi-owned satellite channel Al Arabiya showed a clock on air counting down to their estimate of when the air could potentially run out.
The White House thanked the U.S. Coast Guard, along with Canadian, British and French partners who helped in the search and rescue efforts.
“Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives on the Titan. They have been through a harrowing ordeal over the past few days, and we are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers," it said in a statement.
The Titan launched at 6 a.m. Sunday and was reported overdue that afternoon about 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland. By Thursday, when the oxygen supply was expected to run out, there was little hope of finding the crew alive.
In 2021 and 2022, at least 46 people successfully traveled on OceanGate’s submersible to the Titanic site, according to letters the company filed with a U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, that oversees matters involving the shipwreck. But questions about the submersible’s safety were raised by former passengers.
One of the company’s first customers likened a dive he made to the site two years ago to a suicide mission.
“Imagine a metal tube a few meters long with a sheet of metal for a floor. You can’t stand. You can’t kneel. Everyone is sitting close to or on top of each other,” said Arthur Loibl, a retired businessman and adventurer from Germany. “You can’t be claustrophobic.”
During the 2 1/2-hour descent and ascent, the lights were turned off to conserve energy, he said, with the only illumination coming from a fluorescent glow stick.
The dive was repeatedly delayed to fix a problem with the battery and the balancing weights. In total, the voyage took 10 1/2 hours.
Nicolai Roterman, a deep-sea ecologist and lecturer in marine biology at the University of Portsmouth, England, said the disappearance of the Titan highlights the dangers and unknowns of deep-sea tourism.
“Even the most reliable technology can fail, and therefore accidents will happen,” Roterman said. “With the growth in deep-sea tourism, we must expect more incidents like this.”
US NAVY ACOUSTIC SYSTEM DETECTED ‘ANOMALY’ THAT WAS LIKELY IMPLOSION, OFFICIAL SAYS
A U.S. Navy acoustic system detected an ‘anomaly’ Sunday that was likely the Titan’s fatal implosion, according to a senior military official.
The Navy went back and analyzed its acoustic data after the Titan submersible was reported missing Sunday. Coast Guard officials on Thursday announced that the craft suffered a catastrophic implosion, killing all five aboard.
That anomaly was “consistent with an implosion or explosion in the general vicinity of where the TITAN submersible was operating when communications were lost,” according to a senior Navy official.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive acoustic detection system.
The Navy passed on the information to the Coast Guard, which continued its search because the Navy did not consider the data to be definitive.
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday first reported the Navy’s involvement.
What to know:
— The pilot and 4 passengers of the Titan submersible are dead, US Coast Guard says
— What we know so far about the submersible, what may have gone wrong, and what was done to find it
— A look at the five passengers aboard the vessel
— Did initial delays in communication hamper tourist sub search?
— A 2018 lawsuit warned that insufficient prototype testing could put passengers in danger
— The vessel is a submersible not a submarine, and there is a key difference
TITANIC SALVAGE RIGHTS OWNER MOURNS LOSS OF SHIPWRECK EXPERT
RMS Titanic, Inc., the company that owns the salvage rights to the Titanic shipwreck, is mourning the loss of Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who was among five people killed aboard the Titan submersible when it imploded this week.
Nargeolet — known as “PH” — was a long-term employee of the company.
“The maritime world has lost an iconic and inspirational leader in deep-sea exploration, and we have lost a dear and treasured friend,” the company said in a statement Thursday.
Friend and former colleague Matthew Tulloch said Nargeolet loved his work from the time they collaborated in the 1990s up until Nargeolet’s death.
“I never got the impression that he was looking forward to retirement,” Tulloch said with a small laugh. “You sort of think of people as they retire, then they can go on and do things that they love to do. This was exactly that for him — I can’t think of anything that I’m aware of that he would enjoy doing more than traveling around and sharing information and his experiences with people.”
WHITE HOUSE OFFERS CONDOLENCES TO FAMILIES OF TITAN VICTIMS
The White House offered its condolences to the families mourning the five people killed aboard the Titan submersible.
U.S. Coast Guard officials announced their deaths Thursday following the vessel’s catastrophic implosion in the North Atlantic.
“Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives on the Titan,” the White House said in a statement. “They have been through a harrowing ordeal over the past few days, and we are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.”
The statement also thanked the searchers, including the Coast Guard, involved in the international effort to find the submersible.
“This has been a testament to the skill and professionalism that the men and women who serve our nation continue to demonstrate every single day,” the statement said.
“TITANIC” DIRECTOR JAMES CAMERON SAYS DEEP-SEA EXPLORERS VOICED CONCERNS ABOUT TITAN
“Titanic” movie director James Cameron says the Titan submersible tragedy has eerie parallels to the ocean liner’s disaster more than a century ago.
Debris from the submersible’s catastrophic implosion, killing all five aboard, was discovered near the shipwreck.
In an interview with ABC News, Cameron said he was “struck” by the similarities. The Titanic’s captain ignored warnings about ice in the North Atlantic, and the movie director said deep-sea explorers voiced concerns about the Titan submersible, saying it was too experimental to carry passengers.
“To take place at the same exact site with all the diving that’s going on all around the world, I think it’s just astonishing,” Cameron told the TV station. “It’s really quite surreal.”
Cameron had previously traveled to the Titanic wreckage, including on Sept. 11, 2001, in a submersible vessel.
PAKISTAN OFFERS CONDOLENCES TO FAMILY OF FATHER AND SON ABOARD IMPLODED SUBMERSIBLE
Pakistan has offered the country’s condolences to the Dawood family after the father-and-son explorers were among five killed when the Titan submersible imploded deep in the North Atlantic waters during a trip to the Titanic's wreckage.
Pakistani nationals Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman were aboard the Titan when it went missing Sunday. Authorities on Thursday said the catastrophic implosion meant there were no survivors.
The Dawoods are members of one of Pakistan’s most prominent families and their firm, Dawood Hercules Corp., based in Karachi, is involved in agriculture, petrochemicals and telecommunication infrastructure.
“Our deepest condolences to the Dawood family and the family of other passengers on the sad news about the fate of Titanic submersible in the North Atlantic,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry wrote on Twitter. “We appreciate the multinational efforts over the last several days in search of the vessel.”
COAST GUARD SAYS SOUNDS HEARD DURING SEARCH LIKELY UNRELATED TO TITAN SUBMERSIBLE
The Coast Guard says underwater sounds and banging noises detected in the search area for the Titan were likely unrelated to the missing submersible.
The sounds, heard over two days, gave hope to searchers and those watching the massive effort unfold since Sunday, when the vessel was reported missing, but ultimately seems irrelevant.
Experts say the ocean floor is a “noisy” place and a potential connection between the banging and the Titan was unlikely.
Debris from the Titan, which suffered a catastrophic implosion that killed all five men aboard, was found near the Titanic shipwreck deep in the North Atlantic waters.
“There doesn’t appear to be any connection between the noises and the location on the seafloor,” Rear Adm. John Mauger of the First Coast Guard District said Thursday.
TITAN’S DEBRIS FIELD WAS FOUND NEAR THE TITANIC SHIPWRECK, COAST GUARD SAYS
Coast Guard officials say the Titan’s debris field was discovered near the Titanic shipwreck but it’s too early to tell exactly when the catastrophic implosion occurred.
The Titan submersible was reported missing Sunday – eight hours after it initially lost contact with its surface ship – and its 96-hour oxygen supply would have run out Thursday morning.
It’s not clear whether the implosion occurred Sunday or in the days following, during an international search effort to find the missing submersible.
The Titan’s debris field was located roughly 1,600 feet (488 meters) from the Titanic.
TITAN SUBMERSIBLE LIKELY IMPLODED AND THERE WERE NO SURVIVORS, COAST GUARD SAYS
The Coast Guard says the Titan submersible likely imploded in the North Atlantic waters and there were no survivors among the five people aboard.
The implosion likely occurred near the Titanic shipwreck, where the submersible was headed.
“The debris is consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber,” Rear Adm. John Mauger, the First Coast Guard District, said Thursday. “Our most heartfelt condolences go out to the loved ones of the crew.”
COMPANY LEADING TITANIC EXPEDITION SAYS FIVE PEOPLE ON MISSING SUBMERSIBLE BELIEVED TO BE DEAD
The company leading the Titan submersible trip to the wreckage of the Titanic says the five missing crew members are believed to be dead.
OceanGate Expeditions on Thursday says its pilot and chief executive Stockton Rush, along with passengers Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet “have sadly been lost.”
OceanGate did not provide details Thursday when the company announced the “loss of life” in a statement or how officials knew the crew members perished.
The vessel’s 96-hour oxygen supply likely ended early Thursday morning.
The company has been chronicling the Titanic’s decay and the underwater ecosystem around it via yearly voyages since 2021.
8-HOUR TIME DELAY TO REPORT MISSING TITAN RAISES QUESTIONS
Questions remain about the eight hours between when the Titan lost communication with the surface and when its Canadian support vessel reported it missing to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The time delay has yet to be explained by the company that owns the submersible, OceanGate Expeditions.
Sean Leet, head of the company that co-owns the Titan’s support ship, has refused to discuss the timeline, saying only that “all protocols were followed for the mission.”
But experts familiar with deep-sea exploration say those lost hours raise red flags.
The submersible used a rudimentary system that basically communicated with the surface ship through text message, and likely lacked an emergency radio beacon that could have floated to the surface and started beeping if there was an emergency.
The vessel had lost communication with the support ship, Canadian research icebreaker Polar Prince, during previous dives.
PAST DEEP-SEA RESCUES SHOW CHALLENGES FOR TITAN
The search for the Titan submersible has drawn attention to other deep-sea rescues, only some of which ended in lives being saved.
Those successful efforts — from a submersible off Ireland to a submarine off the New Hampshire coast — offer some measure of hope for the passengers and their families.
But many ended with some, if not all, the passengers on board dying — demonstrating the inherent risk of operating in the deep ocean.
Either way, those rescue missions were not as complex as the effort to find the Titan submersible. They were often in shallower waters and, in several cases, were much bigger crafts.
For example, the USS Squalus sank off the coast of New England in 1939 during a test dive, due to a catastrophic valve failure that partially flooded the military submarine. A newly developed rescue chamber was lowered into the water to famously save the surviving 33 crew members. Twenty-six others drowned in the initial accident.
But the Titan is a civilian vessel and would not have standard Navy hatches that could attach to a rescue chamber like the one used for the Squalus. That makes it almost impossible to rescue any of the submersible’s occupants if they are found underwater.
SEARCH FOR TITAN SHOWS NEED FOR MORE DEEP-SEA TECH
An underwater researcher says the search for the Titan shows the desperate need for more deep-sea technology in the U.S.
The unsuccessful efforts have “really opened up people’s eyes that we need a much more robust capability over larger areas of the ocean to be able to detect and sense where things are,” said Nick Rotker, who leads underwater research for non-profit research and development company MITRE.
The U.S. needs more underwater robots and remotely operated underwater vehicles, known as ROVs, to ensure safety, he said, especially as private exploration of the ocean expands.
“The issue is we don’t have a lot of capability or systems that can go to the depth this vessel was going to,” Rotker said.
Several ROVs are in the North Atlantic waters to search for the missing submersible. One found a debris field near the Titanic wreckage that could be linked to the Titan. The debris field was discovered by a robot from a Canadian vessel.
DEBRIS FIELD DISCOVERED BY DEEP-SEA ROBOT
Officials say a remote-operated robot discovered the debris field near the Titanic that could be linked to the missing Titan.
The robot is one of several remotely operated vehicles, known as ROVs, scanning the sea floor for clues of the missing submersible.
The ROVs are outfitted with cameras and travel to depths many other vessels cannot and have been used for undersea exploration for decades.
The Coast Guard’s post on Twitter gave no details, such as whether officials believe the debris field is connected to the Titan.
The Titanic wreckage is located at a depth of 12,500 feet (3.8 kilometers) in the North Atlantic waters.
The Coast Guard has scheduled an afternoon news conference in Boston to discuss the ROV’s findings.
DEBRIS FIELD FOUND NEAR TITANIC SITE AMID SEARCH FOR MISSING SUBMERSIBLE
The U.S. Coast Guard says an underwater vessel has located a debris field near the Titanic in the search for a missing submersible with five people aboard, a potential breakthrough in an increasingly urgent around-the-clock effort.
The Coast Guard’s post on Twitter gave no details, such as whether officials believe the debris is connected to the Titan, which was on an expedition to view the wreckage of the Titanic. The search passed the critical 96-hour mark Thursday morning when breathable air could have run out.
The Titan was estimated to have about a four-day supply of breathable air when it launched Sunday morning in the North Atlantic — but experts have emphasized that was an imprecise approximation to begin with and could be extended if passengers have taken measures to conserve breathable air.
PAKISTAN’S GOVERNMENT FOLLOWING DEVELOPMENTS IN SEARCH FOR TITAN
A spokesperson for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry says the country’s diplomats in the United States and Canada are following developments in the search for the Titan.
Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman, are among the five people aboard the submersible that went missing Sunday as it descended to the wreckage of the Titanic.
“We have confidence that this matter will be pursued effectively by the local authorities,” ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Thursday at a news conference in Islamabad.
It was the first comment by any Pakistani official since the submersible vanished.
“We would not like to speculate on the circumstances of this incident and we would also like to respect the wishes of the Dawood family that their privacy may be respected,” she said.
The Dawoods are members of one of the country’s most prominent families.
The family’s company, Dawood Hercules Corp., based in Karachi, is involved in agriculture, petrochemicals, telecommunication infrastructure and other ventures.
AS OXYGEN LEVELS RUN LOW ON BOARD TITAN, PASSENGERS CAN MAKE MINOR CONSERVATION EFFORTS
The Titan was said to have enough oxygen on board to to last 96 hours, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, meaning they could run out sometime Thursday.
But there are ways the five passengers can conserve, said professor professor Hugh Montgomery, director of the Centre for Human Health and Performance at University College London, even as temperatures drop to near freezing.
The human body makes every effort to maintain a core body temperature so shivering may increase oxygen demands, he said.
“The only effective way to limit O2 demand in this circumstance is not to burn excess energy,” Montgomery said.
That means staying immobile or sleeping. Meditation can also slightly reduce oxygen demand by producing less stress hormones, less movement and more relaxed muscles, but such effects will be marginal, he said.
FRENCH DEEP SEA ROBOT JOINS INTERNATIONAL SEARCH FOR MISSING SUBMERSIBLE
A French deep sea robot that can dive to depths of 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) has joined the search for the missing Titan submersible and its five passengers.
France’s state-run ocean research institute said Thursday the Victor 6000 is fitted with cameras, lights and robotic arms that could, if Titan is found, assist in raising it to the surface.
“With all of its cameras and things, we’re capable of finding things really well in an area 20 to 30 meters (yards) around,” said Olivier Lefort, the fleet director at the French ocean research institute Ifremer. He added that if the Titan is found, Victor 6000 could help attach cables to the submersible in an effort to raise it.
The robot was aboard the French ocean research ship L’Atalante, which was working in the Atlantic, 48 hours away, when the Titan vanished Sunday on its way to the Titanic wreckage, which is at about 3,800 meters (12,467 feet) deep.
‘DESPERATE SITUATION:’ SCIENTISTS, WHILE REALISTIC ABOUT SURVIVAL CHANCES, OFFER HOPE
Scientists, while remaining realistic about the chances of finding the Titan on the vast ocean floor, are still offering a glimmer of hope.
Rob Larter, a marine geophysicist with the British Antarctic Survey, said in London on Thursday that it’s incredibly difficult to find an object the size of the Titan in a totally dark environment. He says it’s not going to be found with active sonar from a surface ship, but rather with a towed or autonomous vehicle that’s near the seafloor. Even those vehicles can see just a matter of meters.
“I’ve been involved in searches for hydrothermal vent sites,” he said. “We’ve have the vehicles just a few tens of meters away and missed them and then come back and find them. So it really is, you know, literally it’s just a needle in a haystack situation unless you’ve got a pretty precise location”
Jamie Pringle, an expert in forensic geosciences at Keele University in the United Kingdom says the first 24 hours are critical in these kinds of rescue operations and that time period has long passed.
“So there’s always a chance. It’s never zero. But I think obviously the longer the time elapses, the lower the chance of success,” he said.
Larter called it a “desperate situation” buy says you try to stay optimistic as long as possible.
“It’s kind of unimaginable if people are alive, trapped in a submersible with oxygen supplies running down,” he said.
THE SEARCH FOR THE SUBMERSIBLE IS NEARING THE CRITICAL 96-HOUR MARK
The search is nearing the critical 96-hour mark when breathable air is expected to run out, reaching a vital moment in the intense effort to save the five people aboard.
The Titan submersible was estimated to have a 96-hour supply of breathable air when it launched Sunday morning in the North Atlantic. That means the deadline to find and rescue the sub is roughly between 6 a.m. (1000 GMT) and 8 a.m. (1200 GMT) on Thursday based on estimates the U.S. Coast Guard and company behind the expedition have provided.
Experts say that the oxygen supply number is an imprecise estimate and could be extended if passengers have taken measures to conserve breathable air. And it’s not known if they survived since the sub disappeared Sunday morning.
Officials have expanded the coverage area to thousands of miles — twice the size of Connecticut and in waters 2 1/2 miles deep. Airplanes, ships, remote-operated underwater vehicles and a U.S. Navy-owned specialized salvage system have been deployed, concentrating where unidentified noises had been heard for two days. The noises raised hopes of a possible discovery.