Search Underway for Missing Submersible Exploring Titanic Wreck

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A multinational search-and-rescue operation has been launched after a submersible vessel, carrying a team of five individuals to explore the wreckage of the Titanic in the North Atlantic, went missing. US and Canadian authorities reported the incident on Monday. The vessel, operated by OceanGate Expeditions, began its descent on Sunday morning but lost contact with the surface less than two hours later, according to the US Coast Guard. Among those onboard is a British aviator, who had previously posted about joining the expedition on social media.

The US Coast Guard released a statement on Monday, stating that one of its aircraft was searching for the missing crew members after the Canadian research vessel Polar Prince lost contact with the submersible during a dive, approximately 900 miles east of Cape Cod. The Canadian Coast Guard has also joined the search effort, deploying a fixed-wing plane and a ship to the area.

OceanGate Expeditions, on its website, confirmed that a dive expedition to the Titanic site was currently underway. The company operates a submersible named Titan, which is capable of diving to a maximum depth of 4,000 meters and can accommodate a crew of five for up to 96 hours.

Hamish Harding, a British billionaire and aviator, had recently announced his participation in the OceanGate Expedition to the Titanic wreck. In an Instagram post, he expressed pride in joining the mission as a specialist on the submersible. The expedition was expected to be the only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023 due to adverse weather conditions. The identity of the other individuals onboard the submersible remains unknown.

OceanGate and Harding's company, Action Aviation, were not immediately available for comment. OceanGate, in a statement quoted by CBS News, expressed its focus on the wellbeing of the crew members and their families. The extensive assistance provided by government agencies and deep-sea companies in the search efforts was acknowledged.

The Titanic sank in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during its maiden voyage, resulting in the loss of over 1,500 lives. The wreckage, located approximately 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, lies at a depth of 12,500 feet and has been a subject of fascination for researchers and underwater enthusiasts since its discovery in 1985.

Alistair Greig, a professor of marine engineering at University College London, suggested two possible scenarios based on images of the submersible. He theorized that if the vessel encountered an electrical or communications issue, it might have surfaced and remained afloat, awaiting discovery. Alternatively, a compromised pressure hull due to a leak could lead to a less optimistic prognosis. However, without studying the craft itself, definitive conclusions cannot be drawn.

The race against time continues as rescue teams intensify their search for the missing submersible. The remote area of the North Atlantic, where the Titanic wreck rests, poses significant challenges to the operation. The clock is ticking, and the unique engineering complexities of deep-sea exploration add to the urgency of the mission.

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