The US Coast Guard launched a search and rescue operation for a submersible with five people on board that went missing during an expedition to the wreckage of the Titanic.
The military branch received a phone call Sunday informing them the Canadian research ship Polar Prince had lost contact with the underwater vessel and were overdue on checking with their communications, according to Coast Guard spokesperson Lt. Samantha Corcoran.
“Right now, we are just trying to use all efforts and work with international partners to try to get any resources out there to safely locate all five individuals,” she said.
The group conducting the expedition, Oceangate Expeditions, said it is “exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely.”
“Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families. We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible,” the group said. “We are working toward the safe return of the crewmembers.”
A Coast Guard C-130 aircraft and a P-8 Poseidon aircraft with underwater detection capabilities from RCC Halifax are on scene, and a Canadian Coast Guard ship is also heading to the area, Corcoran said.
In an interview with Fox News, First District Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger said the Coast Guard is “bringing all assets to bear” in search of the missing submersible.
“So this is a comprehensive approach to try and locate this submersible, but it is a large area of water and it’s complicated by local weather conditions as well,” he said.
The Titanic infamously hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in April 1912, killing over 1,500 people. The wreckage of the Titanic, discovered in 1985, sits in two parts at the bottom of the ocean nearly 13,000 feet below the surface southeast of Newfoundland.
The wreckage has long been a source of fascination, including in the blockbuster movie “Titanic.” In recent years, costly private tours have been offered to tourists that allows them to see it up close.
Unlike a submarine, a submersible has limited power reserves so it needs a mother ship that can launch and recover it, according to NOAA.
CNN has reached out to authorities in Newfoundland, Canada.
What a $250,000 trip to the bottom of the ocean is like
An archived version of OceanGate’s website, accessible via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, lays out what passengers can expect on the $250,000 trip.
“Follow in Jacques Cousteau’s footsteps and become an underwater explorer — beginning with a dive to the wreck of the RMS Titanic. This is your chance to step outside of everyday life and discover something truly extraordinary,” the website said. “Become one of the few to see the Titanic with your own eyes.”
The eight-day expedition is based out of St. John’s, Newfoundland. The trip begins with a 400-nautical-mile journey to the wreck site.
There, up to five people, including a pilot, a “content expert” and three paying passengers, board the submersible named “Titan” and descend to the bottom of the ocean.
“Once the submersible is launched you will begin to see alienlike lifeforms whizz by the viewport as you sink deeper and deeper into the ocean. The descent takes approximately two hours but it feels like the blink of an eye,” the website said.
According to OceanGate, the Titan is a 23,000-pound submersible made of carbon fiber and titanium. As a safety feature, the sub uses a “proprietary real-time hull health monitoring (RTM) system” that analyzes the pressure on the vessel and the integrity of the structure, the company states. It also has life support for a crew of five for up to 96 hours, the website states.
Person on expedition posted photos
One of the individuals on the missing sub posted photos of it on Sunday before its launch.
The photos, posted on a dive participant’s business Instagram page, show the sub sitting in a cradle-like flotation device in the ocean. A caption accompanying the photos said it “had a successful launch” and was “currently diving.”
Another post from the account, posted on Saturday, noted the weather had been bad but a “window” had opened up for Sunday.
CNN is not naming the individual at this time but has reached out to their company for comment.
An expedition participant on board the Polar Prince, the ship that launched the now-missing sub, said they are all “focused on board here for our friends.”
Rory Golden made the post on Facebook after being contacted by CNN.
“We have a situation that is now the part of a major Search and Rescue effort, being undertaken by major agencies,” he wrote. “That is where our focus is right now.”
He asked people not to ask for the names of the people on the missing sub or speculate.
“I have seen some comments already on social media that are highly inappropriate and insensitive,” he said.
Golden says their online and internet options were being restricted “to keep bandwidth available for the coordinated effort that is taking place.”
“The reaction and offers of help globally is truly astonishing, and only goes to show the real goodness in people at a time like this,” he said. He ended the post thanking everyone and saying, “… think positive. We are.”
Source : CNN