All the ways crews are frantically searching for missing Titanic sub

Titanic submersible: Canadian Coastguard prepares for search

Rescue teams are facing a race against time as they are trying to locate the submersible that went missing on Sunday (June 18).

As the Titan can carry a supply of oxygen enough to last 96 hours for the five people aboard, as of Wednesday morning rescuers have some 24 hours left to be able to save the lives of the explorers.

The search operation faces several challenges, including the lack of light and huge pressure at the depth of the ocean where the Titan may be and the impossibility to reach via radio those trapped in the vessel.


Who is involved in the search?

Several agencies have come together to successfully complete this time-sensitive mission being led by the US Coast Guard. The operation is taking place 900 miles east of Cape Cod, and 435 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada.

The US Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force as well as the Canadian Navy and Coast Guard have been scouting the area for days. Among the aircraft being used is a Canadian P-3, which detected underwater noises on Tuesday.

Rear Admiral John W Mauger also revealed a Canadian C-130 aircraft – supported by two US C-130 jets – and a P-8 submarine search aircraft have been deployed.

Moreover, rescuers are using sonar buoys, which can detect moving objects several feet underneath the surface level.

Among the private vessels involved in the operations are Deep Energy, a pipe-laying vessel with underwater capabilities, and the Polar Prince.

The latter is the support vessel that accompanied over the weekend the Titan from Newfoundland to the area of the launch of the exploration, and has been searching the surface in the hope the submersible managed to re-emerge after the botched dive.

The Atlantic Merlin, a tug and supply ship flying the Canadian flag, is also en route to the search area.

Among the other ships and aircraft expected to arrive in the area within hours is the Royal Canadian Navy ship HMCS Glace Bay, loaded with medical teams specialising in dive medicine and a six-person mobile hyperbaric recompression chamber.

The US Navy is sending a Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System (FADOSS), designed to recover heavy undersea objects such as aircraft or small vessels, while the US military is sending unspecified assets.

Finally, the Horizon Arctic – a rescue vessel carrying heavy machinery including winches, cables and unmanned vehicles capable of reaching depths of 19,000 feet – is headed towards the search area.

This vessel set sail at midnight from a port nearby St John’s Airport, eastern Canada, and will take some 15 hours to get to reach the other rescuers.

Despite the presence of at least three British citizens aboard the Titan, the British Ministry of Defence said on Monday it had not yet been asked to help. UK officials said the MoD was “continuing to monitor” the situation and will assist the response “as appropriate”.

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Two-pronged approach

Rescuers are known to be carrying out the search on two fronts: surface level and underwater.

Hoping the Titan managed to re-emerge after losing communications with the support ship, both C-130 Hercules aircraft and the Polar Prince have scouted the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

Prof Alistair Greig, a submarine expert from University College London, noted that if the vessel can’t send a distress signal, it would be a “real challenge” to see it even above the ocean’s surface.

He told the BBC: “It’s about the size of a large transit van and it’s painted white so trying to see that from the air… is going to be a real challenge.”

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The rescuers are also combing the depths of the ocean in the area where the Titanic sank more than a century ago.

Key in this are the Canadian P3 Aurora aircraft, which arrived at the scene to conduct sonar searches, as well as sonar buoys.

The latter can detect and identify moving objects and work to depths of 13,000ft – approximately where the Titanic is located.

Hoping the vessel will be located before the supply of oxygen runs out, rescuers will then begin the second phase of the operation – retrieving the Titan.

If it is located on the seabed, the operation will be particularly difficult as it would need to be conducted in complete darkness by unmanned vehicles able to sustain the pressure of the water.

Professor Greig said: “While the submersible might still be intact, if it is deeper than more than 656ft there are very few vessels that can get that deep, and certainly not divers. The vehicles designed for navy submarine rescue certainly can’t get down to anywhere near the depth of the Titanic.”

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