OceanGate’s Titan Submersible Wreckage Recovered, “Presumed Human Remains” Found

The US Coast Guard has announced the recovery of debris believed to be from the wreckage of the ill-fated Titan submersible, which imploded last week during its expedition to explore the remains of the Titanic. All five individuals on board lost their lives in the tragic incident.

The debris, including twisted fragments of the 22-foot submersible, was unloaded at a Canadian Coast Guard pier upon its return to port in St. John’s on Wednesday.

The retrieval of the Titan debris marks a significant development in the ongoing investigation aimed at determining the cause of the submersible’s implosion. The evidence recovered from the sea floor, which reportedly includes presumed human remains, will provide crucial insights to investigators from multiple international jurisdictions involved in the case.

“I am grateful for the coordinated international and interagency support to recover and preserve this vital evidence at extreme offshore distances and depths,” US Coast Guard Chief Capt. Jason Neubauer said in a statement. “The evidence will provide investigators from several international jurisdictions with critical insights into the cause of this tragedy. There is still a substantial amount of work to be done to understand the factors that led to the catastrophic loss of the TITAN and help ensure a similar tragedy does not occur again.”

The search for the Titan wreckage involved the deployment of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) carried by the Canadian ship Horizon Arctic. Pelagic Research Services, the company that owns the ROV, stated that their offshore operations had been completed. However, they refrained from commenting on the ongoing Titan investigation, citing the involvement of various government agencies from the United States and Canada.

“They have been working around the clock now for 10 days, through the physical and mental challenges of this operation, and are anxious to finish the mission and return to their loved ones,” Jeff Mahoney, a spokesperson for the company, said.

Last week, the US Coast Guard reported that the Titan debris was found approximately 12,500 feet (3,810 meters) below the surface and roughly 1,600 feet (488 meters) away from the Titanic wreckage. The Coast Guard has initiated a Marine Board of Investigation, the highest level of inquiry conducted by the agency, to probe the causes behind the submersible’s implosion during its descent on June 18.

Experts consulted by the Coast Guard emphasized the importance of analyzing the physical material retrieved from the debris in order to uncover valuable clues regarding the incident. Carl Hartsfield from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution highlighted the possibility of electronic data being present, considering the data-recording capabilities of deep-sea vehicles. However, the availability of such data remains uncertain.

While representatives from Horizon Arctic and the National Transportation Safety Board declined to comment, Liam MacDonald, spokesperson for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, stated that no additional information could be provided due to the ongoing nature of the investigation. Reports on the disaster will be submitted to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for review, and member states may propose stronger regulations for submersibles based on the findings. Nonetheless, any safety proposals are unlikely to be addressed until the IMO’s next Maritime Safety Committee meeting in May 2024.

OceanGate Expeditions, the US-based company that owned and operated the Titan submersible, faced criticism for its safety practices, as former employees expressed concerns about the vessel, which was not subject to regulation. The implosion of the Titan has raised questions about the safety of private undersea exploration operations, prompting the Coast Guard to emphasize the importance of enhancing submersible safety standards.

The recovered debris offers the first glimpse of the remnants of the tourist submersible since the tragic incident. Metal wreckage from the Titan sub, including a landing frame and a rear cover, was unloaded from the Horizon Arctic ship in St. John’s, Canada.

Photographs captured the moment when cranes lifted the metal pieces, covered in tarps, onto trucks. Preliminary analysis indicates that among the debris are at least one titanium end cap, a titanium ring, a carbon fiber cylinder, and the sub’s porthole with a missing window.

The investigation into the Titan disaster remains in its initial phase, with authorities aiming to determine the cause of the implosion and make recommendations to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate, British explorer Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood from Pakistan, and French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet lost their lives in the incident. OceanGate has acknowledged the challenging time for its employees, who are grieving over the loss.

Email exchanges between Rush and his friend, submersible expert Karl Stanley, have come to light, suggesting that concerns about the submersible’s safety were raised prior to the voyage. Stanley, who had been on the Titan in 2019, expressed worries about the cracking sounds he heard during that dive.

“As a mental exercise, let’s assume that by monitoring the noises the hull makes you can know the hull was going to fail in time to react,” Stanley reportedly told Rush, “and let’s also assume that your customers will all be OK with the kinds of sounds we were hearing and accept your explanations and be able to quell their sense of panic that will result from hearing breaking sounds 2 miles under water.”

Stanley questioned the readiness of the submersible’s systems and the potential panic it could cause among paying passengers.

“Do you think that the entire system is dialed in enough, the bugs worked out, that you have a fair chance of even 3 consecutive dives without loosing major systems?” Stanley prodded. “You are not there yet.”

The circumstances surrounding the implosion of the Titan submersible remain unclear. Filmmaker and submersible expert James Cameron speculated that the passengers may have been aware of the hull’s deterioration due to sensors installed by OceanGate to detect such incidents. Cameron criticized this approach to safety, stating that it was fundamentally flawed.

Since its tragic sinking during its maiden voyage in 1912, the Titanic has remained a symbol of human history. The wreckage, extensively explored since its discovery in 1985, is divided into two parts, the bow and the stern, separated by approximately 2,600 feet. Surrounding the broken vessel is a vast debris field. 

Notably, last month saw the creation of the first full-sized digital scan of the wreck, utilizing deep-sea mapping techniques. This scan offers insights into the scale of the ship and unveils intricate details such as the serial number on one of the propellers.

Information for this briefing was found via BBC, Associated Press, Insider, and sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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