The search efforts are concentrated in an area approximately 900 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, where the submersible went missing at a depth of around 13,000 feet. Coast Guard officials have acknowledged the challenges posed by such extreme depths, with few crafts capable of reaching and attaching to the submersible for a successful recovery.
Alistair Greig, a marine engineering professor at University College London, explained that if the submersible is unable to resurface on its own and has descended to the seabed beyond the continental shelf, options become extremely limited. The lack of vessels capable of diving to such depths further complicates the rescue operation. Efforts are being made to deploy a remotely operated vehicle capable of plunging to depths of up to 20,000 feet to aid in the search and potential recovery, as reported by David Concannon, an advisor to OceanGate.
The deepest recorded sub rescue mission to date occurred in 1973 in the Celtic Sea off the coast of Ireland at a depth of just 1,575 feet. The Canadian commercial submersible Pisces III, which had become trapped on the seabed, was successfully recovered after 76 hours. Fortunately, both occupants were saved a mere 12 minutes before their oxygen would have been depleted.
The submersible in question was launched from the Canadian research ship Polar Prince on Sunday morning, embarking on a journey to explore the sunken Titanic, which met its tragic fate in 1912.
However, approximately an hour and 45 minutes after submerging, communication with the research ship was lost, leading to the submersible’s reported disappearance on Sunday night when it failed to return to its support vessel within the expected timeframe.
Typically, submersibles are equipped with a drop weight that can be released in case of emergencies, providing buoyancy to bring the vessel back to the surface. If the missing sub deployed its drop weight, it would be floating on the ocean’s surface, awaiting discovery.
The submersible’s oxygen supply has been steadily dwindling since 6 a.m. on Sunday, with a total capacity of 96 hours. Rear Admiral John Mauger, a commander for the U.S. Coast Guard, acknowledged the challenges of conducting a search in such a remote area but assured the public that all available resources were being deployed to locate the submersible and rescue its occupants.
Among the five people on board the submersible is Hamish Harding, a British businessman and billionaire adventurer. The private company OceanGate Expeditions, which launched the vessel, offers exclusive tours of the Titanic wreckage site for a hefty price tag of up to $250,000 per person. This particular voyage was part of OceanGate’s annual efforts to document the deterioration of the famous shipwreck over the years.
As the rescue mission unfolds, the world watches anxiously, hoping for a successful recovery operation that would not only save lives but also make history as the deepest ever undertaken.