Rescuers race against the clock to find missing sub bound for Titanic

Rescuers race against the clock to find missing sub bound for Titanic

Rescuers are racing against the clock to locate a missing submersible bound for the Titanic wreckage before it’s too late. 

The carbon-fiber submersible named the Titan, part of a mission by OceanGate Expeditions, is carrying a pilot, a renowned British adventurer, two members of an iconic Pakistani business family and another passenger. Authorities reported the vessel overdue Sunday night about 435 miles south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, according to Canada’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center. 

With every passing moment the situation grows more dire. The vessel only carries 70 to 96 hours of emergency oxygen and fuel supply. It was put out to sea at roughly 6 a.m. Sunday, according to David Concannon, an adviser to OceanGate. 

The submersible is capable of carrying up to five people at a time, including a pilot, a content expert and three tourists. 

British businessman Hamish Harding, who lives in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, was one of the mission specialists aboard, according to Action Aviation, a company for which Harding serves as chairman. The company’s managing director, Mark Butler, told the AP that the crew set out on Friday. 

“There is still plenty of time to facilitate a rescue mission, there is equipment on board for survival in this event,” Butler said. “We’re all hoping and praying he comes back safe and sound.” 

Harding is a billionaire adventurer who holds three Guinness World Records, including the longest duration at full ocean depth by a crewed vessel.

Also on board were Pakistani nationals Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, according to a family statement sent to the AP. The Dawoods belong to one of Pakistan’s most prominent families. Their eponymous firm invests across the country in agriculture, industries and the health sector. 

“We are very grateful for the concern being shown by our colleagues and friends and would like to request everyone to pray for their safety while granting the family privacy at this time,” the statement said. “The family is well looked after and are praying to Allah for the safe return of their family members.”

Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a 77-year-old French explorer, is also said to be on board, according to Reuters. He is the director of underwater research at a company that owns the rights to the Titanic wreck, and a former commander in the French Navy. 

OceanGate’s founder and CEO Stockton Rush is also believed to be aboard the missing vessel, Reuters said. 

The search area is roughly 900 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with an ocean depth of roughly 13,000 feet, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Making the search all the more difficult are the conditions at those depths. The water is extremely cold, while the pressure is about 350 times what it is at sea level. 

In terms of what went wrong, some possible scenarios are more favorable than others. If a power or communication failure occurred, then the submersible would be bobbing at the surface waiting to be found, according to Alistair Greig, a professor of marine engineering at University College London. 

But if there is a leak in the pressure hull, the prognosis isn’t good. 

“If it has gone down to the seabed and can’t get back up under its own power, options are very limited,” Greig said. “While the submersible might still be intact, if it is beyond the continental shelf, there are very few vessels that can get that deep, and certainly not divers.” 

Even if they could go that deep, he doubts they could attach to the hatch of OceanGate’s submersible.

The Coast Guard said it is using sonar buoys to see if any sounds in the water can be detected. 

The passengers aboard the vessel were set to explore the wreckage of the legendary Titanic, which sank after hitting an iceberg on April 14, 1912. Scientists worry the ship will one day disappear as it  at a speedy rate.

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