"Titan" : Search for submersible: worry about remaining oxygen

Rescuers race against the clock to locate a five-person submersible near the famous wreckage of the Titanic.

"Titan" : Search for submersible: worry about remaining oxygen

Rescuers race against the clock to locate a five-person submersible near the famous wreckage of the Titanic. So far there is no sign of the boat, said the US Coast Guard coordinator for the operation, Jamie Frederick, in Boston. According to estimates, the oxygen is now enough - on Tuesday evening - for around 40 hours and the search is very complex.

The operating company Oceangate promised to make every effort to rescue the five missing. "Our overall focus is on the well-being of the crew and every possible step will be taken to bring the five crew members back safely," it said in a statement. "We are deeply grateful for the urgent and comprehensive support we are receiving from multiple government agencies and deepwater companies as we attempt to reestablish contact with the submersible."

Navy sends recovery system

Meanwhile, the US Navy is sending a device to salvage the vehicle. As a spokeswoman for the German Press Agency said, the deep-sea recovery system with the abbreviation "Fadoss" should arrive in the Canadian city of St. Johns in Newfoundland on Wednesday night (local time). It was initially unclear when it could reach the search area hundreds of kilometers further south.

The US Navy describes "Fadoss" as a "portable ship-lift system that provides reliable deep-sea lifting capacity of up to 27 tons for the recovery of large, bulky, and severely sunken objects such as airplanes or small ships." The device's winch and cable come in different sizes depending on the type and weight of the object to be lifted. "Fadoss" could only be used once the submersible had been found.

Renowned Titanic expert on board

On board is, among others, the French researcher Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who is considered one of the most well-known experts on the wreck and is therefore nicknamed "Mr Titanic". Other inmates include British adventurer Hamish Harding and British-Pakistani business consultant Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman.

According to US media reports, the fifth missing person on board the missing submersible in the Atlantic is the head of the operating company Oceangate. Stockton Rush took part in the expedition, according to TV networks NBC and CNN, citing Oceangate and an unnamed source.

The search under water is being intensified, said John Mauger from the US Coast Guard to the US broadcaster CNN. Initially, the focus was on the water surface by flying over a large area with aircraft following a specific pattern. US National Guard planes and planes from Canada would have supported the US Coast Guard. An area of ​​around 26,000 square kilometers had already been searched, the US arts guard said via short message service Twitter. Coordinator Frederick said the search was a very complex undertaking. A team made up of the Coast Guard, members of the US National Guard and Canadian Armed Forces are working "around the clock".

Experts are pessimistic

The vehicle has been missing since Sunday morning (local time) - about an hour and 45 minutes after the start of the dive, contact with the escort boat "Polar Prince" broke off. According to the provider Oceangate Expeditions, the almost seven meter small "Titan" has enough oxygen for 96 hours. But experts were pessimistic about the chance of finding the vehicle in time.

A rescue cannot be attempted until the boat is located. The wreck of the Titanic, broken in half, lies at a depth of around 3800 meters. The conditions are extremely difficult at the site about 684 kilometers south of the Canadian island of Newfoundland. It is pitch black and the water pressure is great.

Oceangate offers wealthy customers an adventurous trip - the cost for the eight-day expedition is around 250,000 US dollars (229,000 euros). The dive itself only lasts a few hours. The company is promoting the carbon fiber submersible rides as a chance to "step out of the ordinary and discover something truly extraordinary," according to the BBC. Experts and researchers are always on board.

Reporter: Vehicle looks improvised

Reporter David Pogue from the US broadcaster CBS, who took part in the trip last year, told the BBC that the vehicle made an improvised impression on him. "You control this submarine with an Xbox game controller," Pogue said. Part of the ballast consists of construction pipes. If the boat gets stuck or leaks, "there's no backup, no escape pod," he said. Former submarine officer Frank Owen told the BBC the biggest challenge for those trapped was staying calm and not using too much oxygen.

With expert Nargeolet, a former Navy diver, and adventurer Harding, there are at least two experienced inmates on board. The Briton, who will be 59 in a few days, holds several Guinness World Records, including the longest dive in the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on earth, in March 2021. In June 2022 he flew into space. Harding's company, Action Aviation, said the family was grateful for the many messages of support. One is very proud of Harding, who was responsible, among other things, for the reintroduction of cheetahs from Namibia to India.

Difficult conditions in the dive boat

According to an expert, the conditions in the submersible are extremely difficult. "It's going to be hot, it's going to be cramped," oceanologist Simon Boxall of the University of Southampton told the BBC. "There is no escape pod." There is enormous pressure at this depth, and it is impossible to get out. "So they are totally dependent on the submersible being found." Boxall stressed, "It's a tremendous challenge that we've never faced before." The time for a rescue is very short.

The "Titanic" fan Arthur Loibl from Straubing in Lower Bavaria is also following the search for the missing "extremely intensively", as he told the German Press Agency. Because: In 2021 he was one of the first passengers to dive with the mini submarine from the provider Oceangate Expeditions to the "Titanic".

"I'm very upset," said Loibl. He knows two of the missing men personally and was in contact with one of them by email on Saturday. It is difficult to assess what could be the reason for the disappearance of the submersible. However, it must be terrible for the crew. You sit in a very small space, close together, your feet on top of each other. There is no toilet and after such a long time water and food are likely to run out.

hope for progress

Oceanographer David Mearns told the BBC a commercial pipe-laying vessel has now arrived in the area. The ship is very capable and it is hoped it will have the ability to reach the depth needed to search for the submersible.

The "Titanic" sank in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 1912, killing more than 1,500 of the 2,200 people on board. The remains of the famous luxury liner were discovered in 1985. Films such as the blockbuster "Titanic" (1997) with Hollywood stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio further fueled interest in the disaster. Only recently, with the help of high-resolution 3D images, scientists offered the most accurate depiction of the wreck to date.