Submarine trip to Titanic wreckage: Underwater sounds heard in search for missing tourists

THE search for a submarine being used to convey tourists to the site of the Titanic wreckage has continued after it went missing on Sunday, June 18.

At least, five persons were on board the submersible owned by a tourist company, OceanGate Expeditions, seeking to explore the wreckage of the Titanic in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Those on board, all male, included British businessman Hamish Harding, 58; British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his son Suleman, 18; French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet, 77; and Stockton Rush, 61, chief executive of OceanGate.

However, less than two hours after the submersible dived into the sea, signal was lost between it and the support ship that transported it towards the site of the wreckage, resulting in a frenzied search that has continued for the past three days.

The trip to the site of the Titanic wreck, which involves an eight-day tour underwater, costs $250,000 per person.

OceanGate had carried out successful expeditions to the site of the wreckage in 2021 and 2022.

The company said via its website that it would continue to carry out annual trips to the site of the Titanic to document the extent of decay.

The missing submarine, called Titan, has emergency oxygen to last 96 hours, which is due to run out by Thursday, 10:00 GMT (06:00 EDT), leaving the tourists in the vessel with about a day left.

The submersible is also locked with bolts from outside, meaning that the men will remain trapped in the vessel even if it resurfaces, and may run out of oxygen if they do not get external help.

According to a tweet by the United States Coast Guard, underwater noises were heard by a Canadian P-3 aircraft within the search area, and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) were relocated to trace the origin of the sounds, though they have so far yielded negative results.

“The data from the P-3 aircraft has been shared with our U.S. Navy experts for further analysis, which will be considered in future search plans,” the U.S. Coast Guard tweeted on Wednesday, June 21.

It was also reported that the sounds were heard at 30-minute intervals on Tuesday, June 20, leaving many hopeful that they were made by humans, although experts are yet to interpret them.

The Titanic wreckage sits, at least, 12,000 feet below sea level. It is one of the World Heritage sites as declared by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Titanic sank in April 1912 against an iceberg while travelling from England to New York City on its first trip across the Atlantic Ocean, killing about 1,500 out of the 2,200 people on board.



    Builders of the cruiser ship had touted it as “The unsinkable”, and quoted in books on the Titanic tragedy as boasting after completing work on the then largest and most luxurious tourist boat as saying, “Even God Himself cannot sink this ship.”

    After the ship collided with the iceberg, lifeboats were launched, but only about 700 people were rescued, as the available rescue boats were not enough for all the passengers on board.

    Many passengers that died on the Titanic were among the world’s richest people, who boarded it for prestige. As they waited to get on lifeboats, the ship’s musicians, all of who later died in the wreck, continued to entertain them until it sank completely.

    The wreckage of the Titanic was found in 1985.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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