A new graphic has shown the enormous depth of the Titanic wreckage as the search for a deep-sea vessel that went missing on a dive to explore it continues.
There is a race against time to find the lost submersible, named Titan, with the U.S. Coast Guard confirming on Wednesday evening there was an estimated 20 hours left of oxygen on the vessel – around midday U.K. time on Thursday.
The sub has five people on board, including British billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding.
It lost communication with tour operators on Sunday while about 435 miles south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the shipwreck off the coast of Canada.
The graphic shows the immense task rescuers have to find the 6.7m (22ft) long OceanGate Expeditions vessel, headed to the wreck, 3,800m deep.
Experts say that if the craft is on the ocean floor, it would be nearly impossible to rescue.
The wreckage is about 2.4 miles (3.9km) below the surface, with the most profound operating depth of a U.K. nuclear submarine being 300 metres.
The graphic shows how profound the wreckage is by comparing the depth to the world’s tallest buildings, including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (830m), the Empire State Building in New York (443m) and the London Shard (310m).
Its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, described it as “the ultimate maritime patrol aircraft” and was used in the Cuban Missile Crisis, Hurricane Katrina and the B.P. Horizon oil rig disaster in the U.S.
The Explorers’ Club, of which Mr Harding is a founder member, said it is ready to provide the UK-based Magellan’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV), certified to travel as deep as 3.7 miles (6,000m).
Since Sunday, the Coast Guard has coordinated search efforts with the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard, Air National Guard aircraft and the Polar Prince, which has searched a combined 7,600 square miles.
Rescuers searching for a missing submersible near the wreck of the Titanic focused on Wednesday on a remote patch of the North Atlantic where undersea noises were detected. However, officials cautioned the sounds may not have originated from the vessel.
With the submersible’s air supply expected to run out in a matter of hours, an international search operation was sweeping a vast expanse of ocean for the Titan, which vanished on Sunday while carrying five people on a deep-sea tourist voyage to the world-famous, century-old shipwreck.
A Revealing Graphic Unveils the Deep Chasm Holding the Titanic Wreckage and the Missing Titan Sub
The U.S. Coast Guard said remotely operated vehicles (ROV) were deployed underwater near where Canadian aircraft recorded the noises using sonar buoys on Tuesday and Wednesday but have not found any sign of the Titan yet.
Coast Guard Captain Jamie Frederick said at a press conference that analysis of the noises has been “inconclusive.”
“When you’re in the middle of a search-and-rescue case, you always have hope,” he said. “Concerning the noises specifically, we don’t know what they are.” Officials did not offer a description of the sounds.
In one highly anticipated addition to the search, the Coast Guard said the French research ship Atalante was en route late on Wednesday to deploy a robotic diving craft capable of descending to a depth well below that of even the Titanic wreck.
The French submersible robot dubbed the Victor 6,000, was dispatched at the request of the U.S. Navy, which was sending its particular salvage system designed to lift large, heavy undersea objects such as sunken aircraft or small vessels.
Graphic Display Illuminates the Immense Scale of the Titanic Wreckage and the Unaccounted Titan Sub
The wreck of the Titanic, a British ocean liner that banged an iceberg and sank on its unwed voyage in 1912, killing more than 1,500 people, lies on the seabed at a depth of about 12,500 feet (3,810 meters). It is about 900 miles (1,450 km) east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and 400 miles south of St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Those aboard the submersible, the highlight of a tourist adventure that costs $250,000 per person, included British billionaire and adventurer Hamish Harding, 58, and Pakistani-born businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, with his 19-year-old son Suleman, who are both British citizens.
French oceanographer and leading Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, and Stockton Rush, founder and chief executive of OceanGate, were also reported to be on board.
The 22-foot (6.7-meter) submersible Titan, operated by U.S.-based OceanGate Expeditions, began its descent at 8 a.m. (1200 GMT) on Sunday. It lost contact with its surface support ship near the end of what should have been a two-hour dive to the Titanic.