Kathryn Armstrong and Jonathan Amos
Confirmation of the deaths of the crew aboard the submersible that went missing during a dive to visit the wreckage of the Titanic means that the massive search operation launched in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean has new priorities.
The US Coast Guard confirmed Thursday afternoon that all five men on board died after what was likely a “catastrophic implosion” of the OceanGate-owned Titan.
But many questions remain as to what happened exactly and henceforth the teams will do their best to try to answer them.
Will the bodies be recovered?
Rear Admiral John Mauger of the Coast Guard said he could not confirm whether or not his agency will be able to locate the bodies of the victims.
“This is a incredibly unforgiving environment“, said.
Those on board were wealthy British businessmen Hamish Harding and Shahzada Dawood, with their son Suleman.
OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush was also part of the crew, along with former French Navy diver Paul-Henry Nargeolet.
What will happen to the search?
It is not clear at this stage which agency will lead the investigation since there is no protocol for this type of incident with a submersible.
Mauger specified that it is particularly complex because the incident occurred in a remote part of the oceaninvolving people of different nationalities.
But since the US Coast Guard played a leading role in the operation, it is likely that continue to play a prominent role.
He said they would continue to investigate the area where the remains were found and that several boats, medical personnel and technicians remain in the area.
The teams will begin to be demobilized in the next 24 hours.
The Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) operating on the seabed around the Titanic will also remain for now.
“I don’t have a timeline for when we will stop remote operations on the seabed at this time,” Mauger noted.
What about the underwater wreckage?
It is essential to collect as much debris as possible, including fragments of the carbon fiber with which it was made part of the boat, so that the authorities can reconstruct what happened.
The efforts to map the area in which parts of Titan were found continue.
Paul Hankin, a submarine expert, explained that so far they found five pieces important remains, which allowed us to confirm that it was the missing submersible.
Parts include the nose cone and end bells front and rear of the pressure helmet.
How will the incident be investigated?
Rear Admiral Mauger said the governments of the countries involved in the incident are discussing How can they conduct an investigation?
The objective is to confirm the theory that an implosion caused the death of those who were on board the Titan and, if so, when and why did it happen.
At the moment, the Transport Safety Board of Canada (TSB) announced that it has launched an investigation into the implosion of the submersible.
A team of TSB investigators will leave Newfoundland to “gather information, conduct interviews and assess the event.” Other agencies are expected to participate in this operation.
Search services company Pelagic also said it is conducting a new mission to the location where the ship fragments were found to map and document the area, as well as assist in evidence recovery.
This company operates the Odysseus, the unmanned underwater vehicle that discovered the Titan fragments and so far the only one that has reached the site at a depth of 3,800 meters.
Waiting for key clues
Looking ahead, Rear Admiral Mauger believes that there will be a review of the regulations and standards for underwater missions of this type, although he stressed that this is not within his powers.
Another source of possible information about what What exactly happened to the Titan? it could be hydrophones, underwater microphones used to listen to evidence of illicit atomic weapons.
These tools helped establish that the Argentine submarine ARA San Juan imploded after disappearing off the country’s coast in 2017.
It is possible that the hydrophones have detected the end of the Titan and could give clues about the exact moment in which the tragedy occurred.
United States Navy detected sounds “resembling an implosion” shortly after OceanGate’s Titan submersible lost contact, a navy official said.
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