BASE editorial teamBASE writers and editors who live and breathe adventure every day. We love adventure storytelling as much as we love adventure itself.
A huge search and rescue operation continues in the North Atlantic Ocean, seeking the Titanic tourist submersible with five people aboard lost contact with its support vessel, the Polar Prince.
Destined for a tour of the infamous wreckage on the ocean floor, 3,800 metres deep, Titan submerged on the morning of Sunday 18 June morning. According to authorities, about an hour and 45 minutes into its journey, the watercraft lost contact with Polar Prince. The rescue mission is taking place approximately 900 miles east of Cape Cod.
Onboard the 21 foot submarine, equipped with a four-day emergency oxygen supply is British billionaire explorer Hamish Harding, renowned French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Sulaiman Dawood as well as Stockton Rush, the founder of OceanGate Expeditions, which offers eight-day missions to see the Titanic debris at a cost of $250,000 per person.
‘Contact was lost one hour 45 minutes into the Titan’s trip, suggesting the crew may have been close to, or at, the bottom,’ said Frank Owen OAM, a retired Royal Australian Navy official and submarine escape and rescue project director. ‘The Titan has a maximum speed of three knots, but would be slower the deeper it goes.’
From the wreckage over a century old, there is a huge amount of debris laying on the sea floor making for a highly dangerous environment. In the case of emergency, the drop weights which help the Titan to descend can be released creating enough buoyancy to take it to the surface.
While it is still deemed too early to say what happened to the Titan, experts have suggested several likely scenarios, including a failure in the craft’s communications systems, becoming tangled in wreckage of the Titanic, to a power failure. Another scenario is that there has been a leak in the pressure hull, in which case the prognosis is not good, said Alistair Greig, a professor of marine engineering at University College London.
Contact was lost one hour 45 minutes into the Titan’s trip, suggesting the crew may have been close to, or at, the bottom
‘If it has gone down to the seabed and can’t get back up under its own power, options are very limited,” Greig said. “While the submersible might still be intact, if it is beyond the continental shelf, there are very few vessels that can get that deep, and certainly not divers.’
It is understood that even if, for technical issues, the weights are unable to be released to return the vessel to the surface right away, they are designed to dissolve after a certain time releasing it to the surface. The problem then is that the possible area for a resurface could be huge and extremely difficult to spot such a small craft.
On Tuesday 20 June, the search and rescue teams expanded the search area to include deeper waters.
Don’t miss a single adventure
Sign up to our free newsletter and get a weekly BASE hit to your inbox