A hero that went missing while carrying five people to the wreckage of the Titanic has less than 40 hours of breathable air left as of Tuesday evening, as the U.S. Coast Guard says search efforts continue. Officials said the sub had about 96 hours of oxygen at most onboard.
A Canadian research vessel lost contact with the submersible during a dive Sunday morning about 900 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. U.S. and Canadian authorities have been searching for it.
Coast Guard Capt. During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Jamie Frederick told reporters that “about 40 hours of breathable air left” was an estimate based on the vessel’s original 96 hours of available oxygen.
Chief Petty Officer Robert Simpson, a Coast Guard spokesman, said there wouldn’t be a “hard-and-fast” transition from a search-and-rescue mission to a recovery operation when those hours are up, saying several factors could extend the search.
Race Against Time as Oxygen Supply Dwindles, Warns U.S. Coast Guard
Frederick said authorities were working around the clock on the search in the Atlantic for the missing sub, calling the effort “an incredibly complex operation.”
Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman, British explorer Hamish Harding and French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet were on the sub, along with Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate Expeditions. This U.S.-based company planned the voyage.
If the sub is found in time, Frederick said describing what a deep-sea rescue would entail was difficult.
“That’s a question that then the experts need to look at the best course of action for recovering the sub, but I think it’s going to depend on that particular situation,” he said.
The Coast Guard said the last recorded communication from the sub was about an hour and 45 minutes into Sunday’s dive.
Search efforts continued Monday night, and into Tuesday, he said. A pipe-laying vessel arrived in the search area Tuesday and sent a remotely operated vehicle into the water to look for the sub at its last-known position.
With search flights scheduled to fly over the area throughout the day, Frederick said a Canadian coast guard vessel was expected to arrive Tuesday evening. Several other Canadian boats and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter were en route to the area.
A Canadian aircraft searching for the missing Titan submarine in the Atlantic Ocean detected intermittent “banging” noises from the vicinity of the last known location of the divers.
This discovery was shared via internal e-mails sent to the heads of the division of Homeland Security.
The crew searching for the missing sub heard banging sounds every 30 minutes on Tuesday and again four hours later after additional sonar devices were deployed.
CEO and founder of OceanGate Expeditions Stockton Rush, British billionaire explorer Hamish Harding, renowned French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman Dawood are on the OceanGate Expeditions’ submersible, Titan.
The watercraft submerged on Sunday morning from its support vessel, the Canadian research vessel Polar Prince. About an hour and 45 minutes later, authorities said the Titan lost contact with Polar Prince.
The Titan is equipped with a four-day emergency oxygen supply. The five missing passengers are estimated to have just 40 hours of oxygen supply left inside the vessel.
The U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard are involved in rescue efforts.
Rescuers are racing to find a missing submersible that disappeared during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck as oxygen supplies dwindle, with the U.K. government standing by if needed in the “complex” and “unusual” search.
British billionaire Hamish Harding, chairman of private plane firm Action Aviation, is among five people aboard the vessel reported overdue on Sunday evening (18 June). On Tuesday evening, the U.S. Coast Guard said they have roughly 40 hours of breathable air left.
The submersible – named Titan – lost communication while on its way to the Titanic wreck site, about 435 miles south of St Johns, Newfoundland.
The vessel takes passengers down thousands of metres under the Atlantic to dive through the ruins of the famous ship – which hit an iceberg on its unwed voyage to New York in 1912, with more than half of the 2,200 people on board perishing in the disaster.
On Monday (19 June), the BBC first reported that the U.S. Coastguard had launched an operation to find the missing submersible, carrying experts and tourists who pay tens of thousands of dollars on an eight-hour voyage to view the ruins. The U.S. Coast Guard said military aircraft were involved in the search, and on Tuesday, a Canadian plane joined the operation, which can conduct sonar searches. As of Tuesday morning, 10,000 square miles of sea surface had been searched.