The worst fears of rescue teams searching for the missing Titan submersible have been confirmed.
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) announced Thursday that an unmanned robot found remains of the submersible at the bottom of the ocean, so consider that their 5 passengers died.
The five fragments found include “the rear deck of submersible” and a cone from the front of the ship and were found about 500 meters from the bow of the Titanic.
Rear Admiral John Mauger assured at a press conference that the fragments found suggest “a catastrophic implosion” in the cockpit of the submersible as a result of hull failure, although what actually happened and when remains to be investigated.
Mauger said it’s too early to determine the timing of the implosion.
In any case, he pointed out that the Coast Guard had sonar buoys in the water for 72 hours and in that time they did not detect “any catastrophic event.”
four days of anguish
The Titan lost all communication with the outside on Sunday June 18 during a dive with five people on board towards the remains of the Titanic transatlantic, settled since 1912 on the seabed at a depth of about 3,800 meters off the Canadian coast of Newfoundland, in the Atlantic Ocean.
Traveling on the Titan were Stockton Rush, 61, founder of the company that owns the submersible, OceanGate Expeditions; Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his son Suleman Dawood, 19; British billionaire Hamish Harding, 58, and French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77.
The disappearance of the vessel led to a massive international rescue operation involving American, Canadian, British and French forces and media.
“On behalf of the US Coast Guard and the entire unified command, I offer my deepest condolences to the families“said Rear Admiral Mauger.
“I can only imagine what this has been like for them,” he said.
“The outpouring of support during this highly complex search operation has been solid and immensely appreciated,” he added.
Prior to the Coast Guard announcement, the company owned by the Titan, OceanGate Expeditions, confirmed in a statement the deaths of the submersible’s passengers.
“This is an extremely sad moment to our dedicated employees who are deeply exhausted and grieved by this loss,” the statement read.
“The entire OceanGate family is deeply grateful to the countless men and women from multiple organizations in the international community who expedited a wide variety of resources and worked hard on this mission.”
For his part, the president of the Explorers Club, Richard Garriott de Cayeux, paid tribute to the passengers and said that “their memory will always be a source of inspiration.”
In a statement shared on Twitter, he expressed his respect and affection for each of the five men.
The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs also sent its condolences to the family of Shahzada and Suleman Dawood.
Rear Admiral Mauger said he doesn’t know if the bodies of the five men on board will ever be recovered.
“This is an incredibly unforgiving environment on the seafloor,” he noted.
The unmanned robots that were involved in locating the submarine will remain in the area while the search continues for more details about what happened, Mauger said.
He added that at this moment there are nine vessels in the area. “We have medical personnel in place, we have other technicians there and we will begin to demobilize personnel and vessels from the site within the next 24 hours“, he declared, after insisting that it is “an incredibly difficult and dangerous environment to work in”.
The noises were not from the Titan
The rear admiral also referred to the noises detected three days after the disappearance of the Titan, which suggested that the crew could be sending distress signals.
He explained that these They don’t seem to have any connection. with the location of the submersible whose remains were found this Thursday at the bottom of the sea.
But many other questions remain about how, why and when this event occurred. To answer them, we will have to wait for an investigation to be carried out in which experts draw conclusions.
It is not yet known which agencies will lead the investigation, since there is no protocol for this type of incident with a submersible.
Mauger stressed that the case is particularly complex because it occurred in a remote part of the ocean, involving people of various nationalities. In any case, having led the search operations so far, it is likely that the US Coast Guard. continue to play an important role.
What will the researchers want to find out?
Analysis by Pallab Ghosh, correspondent for C.bbc science
In the first place, they will want to confirm what the rescue teams suspect and the hypothesis about what happened that OceanGate co-founder Guillermo Söhnlein offered to the BBC: that a catastrophic implosion took place.
They will also try to find out when this happened and, more importantly, why.
The answers to those questions lie in the two areas of submersible wreckage discovered by an unmanned vehicle.
Authorities will piece together every fragment they can find to build a complete picture of the sequence of events that led to the tragedy, according to Ryan Ramsey, a former submarine captain in Britain’s Royal Navy.
“This is not going to be much different than a plane crashing, although there is no black box, so the last movements of the ship cannot be traced,” he said.
“But they will need to bring to the surface all the pieces of the boat they can find, and from them they should be able to analyze the structure of the breaks, any fractures that occurred, and perhaps reconstruct what really happened in those last moments. ”.
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