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Lost deep below sea level, submersible was set to survey Titanic wreckage

coral reef
(© the Ocean Agency – stock.adobe.com)

Debris has not been found on the ocean’s surface and no sounds of explosions heard to point to disaster, but where is the Titan?

The submersible on a mission to explore the wreck of the Titanic is feared also lost to the pages of history.

Submersible missions in the past have gotten stuck under the Titanic’s propeller.

Titan, an OceanGate Expeditions sub, lost communication with its mothership on Sunday, less than two hours into its journey to the wreck site of the Titanic, which sunk in 1912. The Titanic lies on the Atlantic Ocean floor 12,500 feet below the surface. Nobody knows how close the Titan got to the Titanic before losing communication.

The Associated Press reported that a banging sound has been heard in 30-minute intervals from under the water on Wednesday, but the source is indistinguishable.

Documents reveal that OceanGate was warned a catastrophic safety problem might happen in relation to the way the experimental Titan was developed. A lawsuit in 2018 stated that the company’s testing and certification were insufficient. The company insists the vessel that was under development at the time was a prototype, and was not the Titan.

Onboard the Titan are pilot Stockton Rush, who is CEO of the company leading the expedition, a British adventurer, two members of a Pakistani business family and Paul-Henry Nargeolet, a French explorer and Titanic expert.

Seven backup systems on the Titan allow it to return to the surface, such as sandbags and lead pipes that drop off and an inflatable balloon. If everyone in the Titan is unconscious, one of the systems is designed to still work and bring the submersible to the surface.

According to Insider, who interviewed one of the men who survived the deepest underwater rescue on Guiness Book of World Records, we should fear the worst for the five individuals on the submersible.

Roger Mallinson was a British Royal Navy pilot when he and co-pilot Roger Chapman were rescued in September 1973. Their submersible had sunk more than 1,500 feet below sea level off the coast of Ireland.

Their sub mission was to lay transatlantic telephone cables on the seabed about 150 miles southeast of Cork, Ireland. However, a hatch broke off the rear of their sub, Pisces III, and plunged it to 1,575 feet below sea level.

Mallinson and Chapman were trapped for more than three days and rescued with only 12 minutes of oxygen left.

Mallinson, 85, said he does not understand why the Titan has not been able to communicate something of a signal.

The Titan is expected to run out of oxygen for its passengers by Thursday morning.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.