Coastguard may not be able to save Titanic submarine even if found – with 40 hours of oxygen left

The US Coast Guard has admitted it doesn’t know if search teams will be able to rescue the Titanic submarine from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, even if they find it within the 96-hour deadline — five people are believed to have gone missing on the ship only 40 hours of oxygen supply.

US Coast Guard Captain Jamie Frederick confirmed at a news conference Tuesday afternoon that there is still no sign of the missing OceanGate Expedition titanium submersible, which has now been missing for more than two days.

Follow our live blog for updates on the Titanic submarine rescue mission

Even if the ship is below the surface of the sea, there are growing concerns that a massive international multi-agency search and rescue operation will not be able to actually recover it and save the five men inside.

When asked if rescue was possible if he was found, Captain Frederick admitted he had no “answer” on that.

“I don’t know the answer to that question, but we will do everything in our power to reach rescue,” he said.

When asked about plans to rescue the submarine if it could be successfully located, Captain Frederick continued to sidestep the question, insisting that the focus should be on finding the ship first.

“All efforts are focused on finding the submarine… we have the best experts in the country… when we get to that point,” he said, later adding that the team will decide on the “best course of action” when the submarine is located to recover it.

The US Coast Guard official made the damning estimate that the people aboard the 21-foot submersible only have 40 hours of oxygen supply left inside the submarine.

While emphasizing that it was “an estimate,” Captain Frederick said that “we have about 40 to 41 hours left.”

Titan submersible on the sea surface


Before departing Sunday morning on its doomed expedition, OceanGate Expeditions’ titanium submarine was stocked with enough oxygen to last four days – 96 hours – for the five men on board in an emergency.

The Titan submersible left its mother ship Polar Prince around 8 a.m. ET (1 p.m. GMT) Sunday morning to dive 13,000 feet below the surface to the wreck of Titanic, according to Miawpukek Maritime Horizon Services, the co-owner of Polar Prince.

Just an hour and 45 minutes later – at 10:47 a.m. ET – the submarine made its final contact with the mothership.

When the submarine failed to surface at the scheduled time at 5:10 p.m. ET, OceanGate contacted US authorities to begin a rescue operation.

A major search and rescue operation was launched, led by the US Coast Guard in Boston, involving multiple agencies, sonar technology and military aircraft.

Two days after the search began, there is still no sign of the ship.

Depending on the oxygen supply on board, rescue teams have until around 5:30 a.m. ET (10:30 a.m. GMT) Thursday morning to locate the submarine and rescue its passengers before all chances of survival evaporate.

But based on US Coast Guard comments — and the equipment and vehicles known to be available — the discovery is only part of the problem.

OceanGate Expeditions’ dive ship called Titan

(PA Media)

Cpt Frederick said the search was “complex” and “challenging” because the site is 900 miles from Cape Cod, the vast search area is “the size of Connecticut,” and it’s not known if the submersible is on the surface in the sea ​​or deep under water.

A combined team consisting of the US Coast Guard, US Navy, Canadian Forces, Canadian Coast Guard and OceanGate Expeditions are all working together to locate the missing vessel.

Three C-130 planes have been in the air searching for signs of the submersible, and an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) dives into the water at the ship’s last known position over the Titanic wreck.

Radar has also been used to search under the water surface and several boats are searching on the water, with other Canadian Coast Guard vessels underway.

Hamish Harding gave an account of his travel plans to view the Titanic wreck two days before the submarine disappeared

(Facebook/Hamish Harding)

Over the past two days, the search and rescue operation has searched a 76-square-mile area larger than the state of Connecticut, the US Coast Guard said.

Cpt Frederick dismissed a report that the UK had offered help but had been turned down, saying he “didn’t know anything about it”.

“Our crew is working around the clock to make sure we’re doing everything we can to locate the Titan and five crew members,” he said.

Despite mounting fears, the five passengers’ desperate family and friends hope they will be found alive – and in time.

Aboard the sub is well-known billionaire explorer Hamish Harding, who has previously traveled to the bottom of the ocean on the Challenger Deep and into space on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

Mr Harding, a father of two, took to Facebook on Saturday to express his excitement at joining OceanGate Expeditions on the Titanic mission.

“I am proud to finally announce that I have joined OceanGate Expeditions for their RMS TITANIC mission as Mission Specialist on the Titanic submarine. Due to the worst Newfoundland winter in 40 years, this mission will likely be the first and only manned mission to Titanic in 2023,” Mr Harding wrote alongside a picture of him signing a card that reads Titanic Mission V.

“A weather window has just opened and we will attempt a dive tomorrow. We started vaping yesterday from St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada and plan to start diving tomorrow morning around 4am. Until then, we still have a lot of preparations and briefings to do.

Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his son Sulaiman Dawood, 19, are aboard the missing vessel

(Family Handout)

“The team on the sub is made up of a couple of legendary explorers, some of whom have done over 30 dives RMS Titanic since the 1980s including PH Nargeolet. More Expedition updates to come IF the weather holds!”

Mr Harding’s stepson Brian Szasz confirmed later Monday that his stepfather was on board the ship when it went missing.

French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet – described by OceanGate as “the greatest discoverer of Titanic” having completed 35 dives on the submersible – has also been confirmed as aboard the ship by a friend and fellow explorer.

They were joined by Shahzada Dawood, a 48-year-old businessman and one of Pakistan’s wealthiest people, and his son Sulaiman Dawood, 19.

The fifth person is believed to be Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate Expeditions.

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