Submarine Carrying Tourists to Titanic Shipwreck in Atlantic Goes Missing, Rescue Ops Underway

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A massive search and rescue operation is underway in the North Atlantic after a tourist submarine went missing after it tried to dive to the site of the Titanic shipwreck on Sunday. Five people, including four passengers, are on board the missing submarine, officials said.

The missing submarine is owned by travel company OceanGate. The company owns three submersibles, according to its website, and the one that has gone missing during the dive to the Titanic off Newfoundland is reportedly the one called Titan.

Titanic Wikimedia commons

OceanGate Mission

The sub was ferried to the dive site by a ship called Polar Prince but the vessel lost contact with the submersible about 1 hour and 45 minutes into the expedition. According to the BBC, the Titanic shipwreck tour offered by OceanGate costs around $250,000 per individual for the eight-day trip.

The lost ship RMS Titanic lies at a depth of 3,800m (12,500ft) in the Atlantic Ocean, around 700 km from Newfoundland.

Truck-Sized Submersible

The truck-sized submersible normally has a four-day emergency supply of oxygen, according to the Cost Guard. Titan, which weighs 10,432 kg, is capable of reaching depths of up to 13,100 ft.

OceanGate submarine goes missing
OceanGate submarine goes missing OceanGate

A vessel called the Polar Prince, which is used to transport submersibles to the wreckage site, was involved in the expedition, its owner told the BBC.

OceanGate Expeditions said in a statement that the rescue operation was ongoing and it was exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely. "Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families ... " OceanGate said. It added that it was "deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible."

Difficult Operation

US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger said the rescue teams are taking the mission 'personally' and that there should be approximately about 70 to 96 hours of oxygen left in the sub. "We anticipate there is somewhere between 70 and the full 96 hours available at this point," he said.

While Cost Guard vessels are searching in the waters, C-130 and P8 Poseidon aircraft are also assisting in the operation. The officials, however, pointed out that the rescue operation was a difficult one as the area of the search was remote. "It is a remote area and it is a challenge to conduct a search in that remote area, but we are deploying all available assets to make sure that we can locate the craft and rescue the people on board," Mauger said.