Tourist submarine on dive to Titanic wreck goes missing with five people onboard


A frantic marine search is underway for a missing tourist submersible which has not been seen since it launched to take five people to the Titanic wreckage yesterday morning. 

The Boston Coastguard and Canadian Coastguard are both now looking for the missing vessel that is operated by tour company OceanGate Expeditions.

The wreckage of the iconic ship sits 12,500ft- 2.5 miles – underwater around 370 miles from Newfoundland, Canada. OceanGate Expeditions is thought to be the only company that offers the tours. 

As of 1pm Monday, the sub had just 72 hours of oxygen left, according to the US Coast Guard Admiral leading the coordinated effort to find it. 

Among those onboard is British billionaire Hamish Harding. He posted excitedly on Instagram about being able to commence the dive after a bout of bad weather in Newfoundland. 

OceanGate Expeditions is one of the only companies that offers the tours. Tickets cost up to $250,000.

OceanGate Expeditions is one of the only companies that offers the tours. Tickets cost up to $250,000.

The Boston Coastguard is now looking for the missing vessel. The wreckage of the iconic ship sits 12,500ft underwater around 370 miles from Newfoundland, Canada 

Among those taking part in the expedition is billionaire Hamish Harding, CEO of Action Aviation in Dubai. He excitedly posted to social media about being there yesterday

Among those taking part in the expedition is billionaire Hamish Harding, CEO of Action Aviation in Dubai. He excitedly posted to social media about being there yesterday

Harding's stepson posted on social media that he was among the missing

Harding’s stepson posted on social media that he was among the missing 

Harding excitedly posted to social media about being on the mission

Harding excitedly posted to social media about being on the mission

Harding had posted excitedly about the dive. The boat departed St John in Newfoundland on Saturday for a Sunday morning dive

Harding had posted excitedly about the dive. The boat departed St John in Newfoundland on Saturday for a Sunday morning dive 

A photograph shared by Hamish Harding's company of the sub being launched on Sunday

A photograph shared by Hamish Harding’s company of the sub being launched on Sunday 

Expedition ship Polar Prince is believed to have departed St Johns in Newfoundland on Saturday, with the submersible launching at around 4am Sunday. 

OceanGate has not confirmed how long the sub has been missing, but Rear Admiral John W. Mauger told Fox News that it had 72 hours of oxygen left based on  OceanGate’s ads that the sub has a life support of 96 hours. 

He added that the Coast Guard does not have any ships or subs available to rescue the Titan from the ocean bed, and that more help is on the way. 

‘We don’t have equipment onsite that can do a survey of the bottom… there is a lot of debris [at this wreckage] so locating will be difficult. 

French Navy veteran PH Nargeolet is  believed to be taking part in the expedition, though it's unclear if he is onboard the missing sub

French Navy veteran PH Nargeolet is  believed to be taking part in the expedition, though it’s unclear if he is onboard the missing sub

‘We don’t have the capabilities at this time. Right now, we’re focused on trying to locate it,’ he said. 

OceanGate said ‘several’ government agencies were involved in addition to the Coast Guard. 

The Titan subs have no way of directing themselves under water. 

Instead, they rely on text messages from the mothership, instructing them where to go. 

Last year, a CBS journalist was on the mothership when the sub went off course. 

It was missing for two-and-a-half hours before it returned. 

None of those onboard were harmed.  

Tickets cost $250,000 for an eight-day excursion during which groups pair off into smaller pods to dive in the submersibles for up to ten hours. 

The company on Monday confirmed its sub was missing.  

‘We are exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely. 

‘Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families. 

‘We are working toward the safe return of the crewmembers. 

The Polar Prince is the expedition ship used to take tourists from Newfoundland out to the wreckage site. The sub is deployed once out at sea

The Polar Prince is the expedition ship used to take tourists from Newfoundland out to the wreckage site. The sub is deployed once out at sea

Video from a previous mission shows the interior of the submersible that has been underwater since yesterday morning

Video from a previous mission shows the interior of the submersible that has been underwater since yesterday morning 

The US Coast Guard in Boston is among agencies assisting in the search for the missing sub

The US Coast Guard in Boston is among agencies assisting in the search for the missing sub

According to OceanGate’s online materials, the Titan can operate safely for up to 96 hours with a crew of five onboard. 

The sub uses Elon Musk’s Starlink to communicate with its mothership because it is so far out to sea. 

Among those taking part in the expedition is billionaire Hamish Harding, CEO of Action Aviation in Dubai. 

He excitedly posted to social media about being there. Harding said it a ‘window’ had opened up that would allow the group to dive. 

‘A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive tomorrow.

‘We started steaming from St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada yesterday and are planning to start dive operations around 4am tomorrow morning,’ he wrote. 

His company, Action Aviation, posted yesterday at 4am confirming that he was ‘diving’.

Harding holds the Guinness World Record for the longest duration spent at the bottom of the sea.

The London-born adventurer set it in 2021 after diving to the deepest place on Earth, the Mariana Trench, and traversing it for four hours and 15 minutes.

It was one of three Guinness world records the 58-year-old has earned.

He set another one for the longest distance, three miles, covered at the bottom of the ocean. His first was set in 2019, for the fastest circumnavigation of the earth via North and South Poles in a Gulfstream 650ER business jet. And last year he went into space.

The father of two – who is friends with astronaut Buzz Aldrin – said recently: ‘I used to read the book of Guinness World Records regularly as a child.. I always wondered how I could get into it. I did not think I could do it.

‘And I didn’t want to do something stupid-like setting a record for the number of ping-pong balls bounced in a day, or something like that.’

As the frantic search for the Titanic submersible was under way yesterday, family members asked for prayers for Harding as his latest adventure went awry.

The aviator, businessman and explorer is no danger to perilous expeditions.

He told an interviewer in 2021 how his submarine, Challenger Deep, had sustained a damaged thruster during his journey to the ‘truly spectacular’ Mariana Trench, which lies seven miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, and said: ‘The sub has many safety features, including four days’ reserve of oxygen, water and emergency rations. The only problem is that there is no other sub that is capable of going down there to rescue you. It will take three years to build another one. So, having four days of supply doesn’t make a difference really. If something goes wrong, you are not coming back.’

Harding, who runs an aviation company in Dubai, also has the distinction of taking the oldest man – moon landing astronaut Aldrin, at the age of 86 – and the youngest, his 12-year-old son, to the South Pole, telling the interviewer: ‘Buzz is an old friend of mine. We had always talked about going to the South Pole together and we finally did it in 2016.’

Images from Ocean Gate, one of the tour companies that operates the expeditions, show the wreckage

Images from Ocean Gate, one of the tour companies that operates the expeditions, show the wreckage 

Marine Traffic shows the Canadian Coast Guard's Horizon Arctic and Kopit Hobson 1752 are now making their way to the wreckage and the Polar Prince, the boat used for the expedition

Marine Traffic shows the Canadian Coast Guard’s Horizon Arctic and Kopit Hobson 1752 are now making their way to the wreckage and the Polar Prince, the boat used for the expedition 

An only child, Harding was born in Hammersmith, London, in 1964, and has degrees in natural sciences and chemical engineering from the Cambridge University.

Last year, Harding was one of six astronauts to go to space on Blue Origin’s fifth human spaceflight aboard its New Shepard rocket.

And before another trip, to the North Pole two months prior to going into space, he said: ‘People, especially as they grow older, tend to give up on their dreams. When I think of something unusual, I just try to find ways to make it happen.’

Naval experts say the wreckage is in such a position that it will be a ‘difficult’ recovery mission. 

‘It’s very worrying. It could have become entangled in the wreckage of Titanic, we don’t know yet. 

‘The wreck site is a long way from anywhere.

‘The only hope one has is that the mothership will have a standby craft that can investigate immediately what is going on,’ Former Rear Admiral Chris Parry said during an appearance on Sky News.

Marine Traffic shows the Canadian Coast Guard’s Horizon Arctic and Kopit Hobson 1752 are now making their way to the wreckage. 

Its dives can last up to 10 hours each, with participants spending a total of eight days at sea onboard a larger ship. 

In an interview last year, the company’s CEO Stockton Rush told CBC that their subs had capacity for five people. 

‘Titan is the only five-person sub capable of going to the Titanic depth, which is half the depth of the ocean.’ 

‘There’s no switches and things to bump into, we have one button to turn it on.

‘Everything else is done with touch screens and computers, and so you really become part of the vehicle and everybody gets to know everyone pretty well.’ 

The 2023 expeditions are only the third the company has carried out in the Titan.





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