Atlantic: 96 hours expired: How long will the oxygen last?

According to the operator Oceangate Expeditions, the oxygen on board the missing submersible "Titan" should be sufficient for 96 hours.

Atlantic: 96 hours expired: How long will the oxygen last?

According to the operator Oceangate Expeditions, the oxygen on board the missing submersible "Titan" should be sufficient for 96 hours. According to estimates by the rescue teams, this time window could now have closed.

Experts pointed out, however, that such information is only an inaccurate value. The time only serves as a guideline, it said. So there could still be air for the five occupants if they managed to save oxygen, for example by moving little or hardly at all.

"We don't know how long they're actually going to last in terms of oxygen levels," marine researcher Simon Boxall of the University of Southampton told NBC News. All that is known is that the critical point in time is "imminent". Retired British Rear Admiral Chris Parry told Sky News: "I'm afraid it's looking very bleak." Even if the "Titan" were found, it would take a long time to salvage the boat. The probability that the five inmates survive is "vanishingly small".

According to calculations by the US Coast Guard, the oxygen supply is likely to run out by early Thursday afternoon German time, as reported by the US media.

The operator of the "Titan" mothership "Polar Prince" did not want to know anything about giving up even days after the disappearance of the submersible. "The mobilized equipment is the best in the world, the most powerful in the world," Sean Leet told journalists in St. John's, Canada, on Wednesday afternoon (local time). He added: "We will hold on to hope until the end." The rescue squads, led by the US Coast Guard, increased their efforts again on Wednesday (local time) and concentrated on an area from which noises had previously been recorded.

The submersible has been missing since Sunday morning (local time). The "Titan" was with five people on board on the way to the wreck of the "Titanic" that sank in 1912 at a depth of around 3800 meters. About an hour and 45 minutes after the start of the dive, contact with the mothership was lost. It is unclear whether the boat is still intact and where it is located. According to the operator, the 6.70 meter long "Titan" had enough oxygen on board to supply five people for 96 hours.

Oxygen supply not possible

But even if the submersible is found soon, experts say it won't be able to get fresh oxygen underwater. "At this depth, there's really no way to get oxygen in," oceanographer Tom Dettweiler told CNN on Thursday. "There is no opening or anything like that for oxygen to get in."

The only solution would be to bring the "Titan" up as quickly as possible, open the hatch and get to the people, emphasized Dettweiler, who himself was involved in the search for and finding the sunken luxury liner "Titanic" in 1985. But bringing the submersible to the surface from a great depth would probably take several hours, the researcher emphasized.

"It's just that we're dealing with a long distance and difficult conditions," said Dettweiler. "If you think about it, it's very similar to the original Titanic sinking where rescuers just didn't make it in time."

Rescue would be "enormous effort"

One of the biggest problems is getting the equipment needed for location and rescue to the search area. "It's all very big, very heavy, it had to be flown in cargo planes." Only from there can the equipment be lowered onto ships. It is a "huge effort".

Without oxygen, the five crew members would face a slow death, as lung specialist Rainer Schädlich explained. "The process takes a long time because the oxygen is slowly consumed and additional CO2 is produced through respiration."

Typically, air contains about 21 percent oxygen (O2) by volume. If the proportion of carbon dioxide increases, that of O2 decreases. "If the oxygen content drops below 15 percent by volume, physical and mental performance is increasingly reduced," says Schädlich, who is a specialist in internal medicine, pulmonary and bronchial medicine, allergology and environmental medicine in Straelen.

Although diving and submarines have carbon dioxide filters to collect the gas, explained Stefan Kluge, director of the clinic for intensive care at the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf. But: "If the capacity of the carbon dioxide filter is exhausted, then the carbon dioxide increases."

symptoms very uncomfortable

With increasing lack of oxygen, headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, but also shortness of breath, confusion, dizziness and drowsiness up to apathy occur. "The symptoms that occur when there is a lack of oxygen, especially shortness of breath, can be very uncomfortable. In this respect, I would not speak of a mild death." How quickly the oxygen is consumed depends heavily on the breathing and activity of the people on board, said the Hamburg intensive care physician.

Researcher Paul-Henri Nargeolet (77) is also on board the "Titan". Known as "Monsieur Titanic", the Frenchman is considered one of the leading experts on the wreck of the luxury liner. Other inmates are British adventurer Hamish Harding (58), who holds several Guinness World Records, and British-Pakistani business consultant Shahzada Dawood (48) and his 19-year-old son Suleman. The fifth missing is the boss of the operating company Oceangate, Stockton Rush (61), who steered the boat.

Oceangate offers wealthy customers an adventurous trip - the cost for the eight-day expedition is 250,000 US dollars (229,000 euros) per person. The dive trip to the Titanic itself usually only takes a few hours.

The Titanic sank in April 1912 on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in the North Atlantic. More than 1,500 of the 2,200 people on board died. The remains of the famous luxury liner, broken into two large pieces, were discovered in 1985.