An esteemed specialist has expressed that auditory signals picked up in the vicinity of the search area for the missing Titanic tourist submersible could potentially imply that the vessel is either close to or already at the surface.
A colossal operation to search and rescue has been launched in the middle of the Atlantic following the disappearance of the OceanGate tourist vessel, known as the Titan, during a dive to the shipwreck with a crew of five individuals.
Among those on board the submersible are the British billionaire Hamish Harding, the founder of OceanGate, French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Stockton Rush, and Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman.
The expedition, which is estimated to cost £195,000 per person, commenced at 4 am, but communication ceased after one hour and 45 minutes during the descent to the wreckage site. The shipwreck rests approximately 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) below sea level, situated at the ocean’s depths around 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, within US waters.
On Wednesday morning, the US Coast Guard detected sounds believed to be emanating from the sub, consisting of banging noises.
Frank Owen, an expert in submarine search and rescue, has since stated that the reports of banging detected by acoustic sensors suggest that the vessel might be in proximity to the surface. Owen added that his “confidence went up by an order of magnitude” upon hearing the reports.
He conveyed to the BBC: “To begin with, there is a retired French navy diver on board this craft. He would be familiar with the protocol for attempting to signal search forces… At the hour and half-hour marks, you bang vigorously for three minutes.”
Elaborating further, Owen explained, “Below approximately 180 meters, the water temperature drops significantly, creating a layer that the sonar signals bounce off. However, if you’re in water at the same depth, the signals tend to travel in a relatively straight path.”
The maritime search and rescue operation released a statement regarding the auditory signals: “Canadian P-3 aircraft detected underwater noises within the search area. Consequently, remote operating vehicles (ROVs) were redirected to investigate the source of the sounds.”
The statement continued, “Despite conducting extensive ROV searches, no positive results have been obtained thus far. These searches will continue. Furthermore, the data gathered by the P-3 aircraft has been shared with our US Navy experts for further analysis, which will be taken into account when formulating future search plans.”
The Explorers’ Club, of which Mr. Harding is a founding member, also conveyed an optimistic message on Wednesday morning.
President Richard Garriot de Cayeux stated, “There is reason to be hopeful, as based on field data, we understand that possible signs of life have been detected at the site. They possess a thorough understanding of the competent personnel and technology we can deploy… We believe they are utilizing all available resources and doing everything within their power.”
However, even if the Titan manages to resurface, spotting the vessel will prove immensely challenging due to only a small portion of it protruding above the water’s surface.
Additionally, passengers within the submersible will be unable to extricate themselves without external assistance, as the vessel’s hatch was secured from the outside before embarking on the voyage.