Underwater sounds heard during frantic search for missing submersible with 5 on board near Titanic

A Canadian military surveillance plane detected underwater sounds as a massive search continued early Wednesday in a remote part of the North Atlantic for a submersible that disappeared carrying five people onto the wreck of the Titanic.

A US Coast Guard statement did not elaborate on what rescuers thought the noises might be, though it did offer a glimmer of hope for those lost overseas from the Titan, as estimates suggest that there could only be a day’s worth of oxygen if the ship is still functioning.

Meanwhile, questions remain over how teams might reach the lost submersible, which could be as deep as around 12,500 feet (3,800 meters) below the surface near the watery grave of the historic ocean liner. Newly uncovered claims also suggest that there were significant ship safety caveats during its development.

Lost aboard the ship is pilot Stockton Rush, the CEO of the company leading the expedition. Its passengers are a British adventurer, two members of a Pakistani business family and a Titanic expert.

The Coast Guard wrote on Twitter that a Canadian P-3 Orion had “detected underwater sounds in the search area.” The researchers then moved an underwater robot to this area to conduct research. However, these searches “have yielded negative results but are continuing”.

“Data from the P-3 aircraft has been shared with our U.S. Navy experts for further analysis that will be considered in future research plans,” the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard’s statement came after Rolling Stone, citing what it described as internal U.S. Department of Homeland Security emails about the search, said crews were hearing “banging noises in the region every 30 minutes”.

During underwater disasters, a crew unable to communicate with the surface must strike the hull of their submersible to be detected by sonar. However, no official has publicly suggested this is the case, and underwater noises can come from a variety of sources.

Still, the information raised hopes among some, including Richard Garriott de Cayeux, president of The Explorers Club. He wrote an open letter to his club’s adventurers, which include the missing British man and the Titanic expert aboard the Titan, that they had “much more confidence” now after speaking to officials from Congress, the U.S. Army and the White House about the search.

Three US Army C-17 transport planes were used to move commercial submersibles and support equipment from Buffalo, New York, to St. John’s, Newfoundland, to help with the search, a carrier said. -word of the US Air Mobility Command.

The Canadian military said it provided a patrol aircraft and two surface vessels, including one specializing in diving medicine. He also dropped sonobuoys to listen for sounds from the Titan.

Rescuers were racing against time as even under the best of circumstances the ship could run out of oxygen by Thursday morning.

In addition to an international array of ships and planes, an underwater robot had begun searching the vicinity of the Titanic and there was a push to bring salvage equipment to the scene in case the submarine would be found.

Authorities reported the carbon-fiber vessel was overdue on Sunday evening, triggering the search in waters about 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John’s.

The submersible had a four-day supply of oxygen when it set sail around 6 a.m. Sunday, according to OceanGate Expeditions adviser David Concannon, who oversaw the mission.

CBS News reporter David Pogue, who traveled to the Titanic aboard the Titan last year, said the vehicle uses two communication systems: text messages that go back and forth to a surface ship and security pings that are emitted every 15 minutes to indicate that the sub is still running.

Both of these systems shut down about an hour and 45 minutes after Titan sank.

“There are only two things that could mean. Either they lost all power or the ship developed a breach in the hull and it imploded instantly. Both are desperately desperate,” Pogue told Canadian network CBC on Tuesday.

The submersible had seven backup systems to get to the surface, including falling sandbags and lead pipes and an inflatable balloon. A system is designed to work even if everyone on board is unconscious, Pogue said.

Meanwhile, documents show OceanGate had been warned there could be catastrophic safety issues posed by the way the experimental vessel was developed.

David Lochridge, director of marine operations for OceanGate, said in a 2018 lawsuit that the company’s testing and certification was insufficient and would “subject passengers to potential extreme danger in an experimental submersible”.

The company insisted that Lochridge was “not an engineer and was not hired or invited to perform engineering services on the Titan”. The company also claims that the ship under development was a prototype, not the now defunct Titan.

The Marine Technology Society, which describes itself as “a professional group of ocean engineers, technologists, policy makers and educators”, also expressed concern that year in a letter to Rush, the CEO of OceanGate. . The company said it was essential that the company put its prototype through expert third-party supervised testing before launch to protect passengers. The New York Times first reported on these documents.

The search for the missing ship has attracted international attention. In Dubai, where missing British adventurer Hamish Harding lives, Crown Prince Hamadan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum wrote: “Dubai and its people pray for their safety and hopeful return.”

Others on board include Pakistani nationals Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, whose namesake firm invests across the country. In the Pakistani port city of Karachi, employees of his companies said they were praying for the safe return of the two, as were government officials. French explorer and Titanic expert Paul-Henry Nargeolet was also on board the ship.


Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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