The OceanGate Titan submersible, which went missing during its descent to the Titanic wreckage in the North Atlantic Ocean, may be out of oxygen resources but there is still a small glimmer of hope for the passengers on board as sounds have been detected on sonar and more vessels deployed.
The cause of the submersible’s disappearance remains uncertain, with potential scenarios including power loss, entanglement with a part of the Titanic, or structural failure resulting in implosion.
The submersible itself does not have the power to propel itself, so their search and rescue is essential for the survival of the crew, which includes British explorer Hamish Harding, British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, former French navy diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Stockton Rush, chief executive and founder of OceanGate Expeditions.
Recent updates report there have been indications of sounds in the vicinity, which raises hope that the passengers may still be alive. Search efforts are now concentrated on the area from which the sounds appear to originate. The detection of 30-minute banging sounds by a Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft equipped with underwater detection capabilities led to the deployment of sonobuoys for further investigation. The regular intervals of the sounds align with the possibility of a trapped crew attempting to communicate while conserving energy and oxygen.
The U.S. Coast Guard has sent additional vessels equipped with tools for scanning the ocean floor to expedite the search and rescue mission, including the Canadian coast guard ship John Cabot with side-scanning sonar capabilities, the Canadian remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Atlantic Merlin, and the commercial ROV Skandi Vinland. Additional assets are en route to the search area.
Assistance from a British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have joined the search operation. Furthermore, a Canadian Navy ship carrying a specialized medical team has arrived at the scene, equipped with a hyperbaric recompression chamber that can accommodate up to six people.
Estimates suggest that the submersible’s 96 hours of breathable oxygen supply may have been depleted, though actual conditions and conservation measures taken by the passengers could influence this estimate. Determining whether the submersible is on the surface or the seabed remains unclear, and locating it may require extensive survey efforts that could span weeks.