Race against time: the search for the missing submersible during the expedition to the wreck of the Titanic reaches a critical point | wayne dupree

The search for the missing submersible during an expedition to view the wreckage of the Titanic neared the critical 96-hour mark on Thursday, when breathable air is expected to run out.

The Titan submersible was launched into the North Atlantic on Sunday morning with a four-day supply of air. According to information from the US Coast Guard and the shipping company, the deadline to find and rescue the submarine is between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. EDT (10 a.m. and 12 p.m. GMT).

Experts have pointed out that this is an imprecise estimate and that it could be extended if passengers keep the air breathing. Since the sub went missing on Sunday morning, their fate is unknown.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported Thursday that an underwater robot from a Canadian vessel had reached the seabed and started searching for the submarine. Rescuers sent more vessels to the site of the disappearance.

Authorities hope the underwater sounds will narrow their search, which has spanned thousands of miles – twice the size of Connecticut – in waters 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) deep.

The Titan was late Sunday afternoon about 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, en route to where the iconic ocean liner sank more than a century ago. Since 2021, OceanGate Expeditions has been documenting the decay of Titanic and the underwater ecosystem around it.

As of Thursday morning, anyone on the ship was unlikely to survive.

Locating the ship, reaching it with rescue equipment and bringing it to the surface – if it is intact – remains difficult. Before the passengers run out of oxygen.

Dr Rob Larter, a marine geophysicist with the British Antarctic Survey, noted that it was difficult to find anything the size of the submarine – 22 feet (6.5 meters) long and 9 feet (nearly 3 meters ) from above.

He said, “You’re talking about totally dark environments” where an object tens of meters away can be missed. “It’s just a needle in a haystack situation unless you have a fairly precise location.”

Donald Murphy, an oceanographer and former chief scientist for the Coast Guard’s International Ice Patrol, said the area of ​​the North Atlantic where the Titan disappeared on Sunday is prone to fog and storms, making the search and rescue difficult. Passengers also face temperatures above freezing.

New claims suggest that the development of the submersible included important ship safety warnings.

The submersible made world news on Thursday at the crucial hour. Saudi Arabian satellite channel Al Arabiya posted a countdown to the estimated date of the air shortage.

Captain Jamie Frederick of the First Coast Guard District said a day earlier authorities hoped to save the five passengers.

“This is 100% search and rescue,” he said on Wednesday.

Frederick said the sounds could narrow down the search, but their location and source were unknown.

“We don’t know what they are,” he admitted.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Systems Laboratory Director, Retired Navy Captain Carl Hartsfield, described the sounds as “clapping noises” but cautioned that research teams “need to put the whole picture in context and that they must eliminate potential man-made sources other than the Titan.”

Some experts found the report encouraging as crews of submarines unable to communicate with the surface are taught to strike on the hull of their submersible to be detected by sonar.

The United States Navy announced on Wednesday that it was dispatching a rescue system capable of lifting “large, bulky and heavy underwater objects such as airplanes or small ships.”

Titan weighs 20,000 pounds. The Navy’s Flyaway Deep Ocean Rescue System can lift 60,000 pounds (27,200 kilograms).

Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate, is missing. Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood and Nargeolet are its passengers.

According to OceanGate’s letters to the U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, 46 people traveled on its submersible to the site of the Titanic wreckage in 2021 and 2022.

The company’s first client called his dive at the site two years ago a “kamikaze operation”.

“Imagine a few meters metal tube with a metal floor. I can’t stand up. No kneeling. Retired German adventurer and businessman Arthur Loibl said: “Everyone is sitting next to each other.” “No claustrophobia.”

He said a fluorescent glow stick was the only light during the 2.5 hour descent and ascent to conserve energy.

Battery and balance weight problems delayed the dive. The trip took 10.5 hours.

OceanGate used an inexpensive video game controller to run the Titan. The company claims that many parts of the ship are commercially available as they are reliable.

Rush told CBC the controller is “super durable” and intended for use by a 16-year-old. “Just in case,” he said.

Sandbags, lead pipes and an inflatable balloon helped the submersible surface.

Retired Navy Vice Admiral Robert Murrett, associate director of the Institute for Security Policy and Law at Syracuse University, said the disappearance highlights the risks of deep-sea operations and recreational exploration of space and the sea.

“I think some people believe that because modern technology is so good, you can do things like that and not have accidents, but that’s just not the case,” he said. declared.

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