By Joseph Ax and Steve Gorman
June 21 (Reuters) – Rescuers search for a missing submersible near the wreck of the titanic On Wednesday, they focused their efforts on a remote area in the North Atlantic where a number of underwater noises were detected, although officials warned the noises may not have come from the ship.
With estimates that the air supply on board the submersible could be exhausted by Thursday morning, an international coalition of rescue teams has searched much of the ocean for the submersible titaniumwhich disappeared on Sunday while taking five people deep into the sea to view the centuries-old wreck as part of a tourist expedition.
The US Coast Guard said search operations with remotely operated vehicles (ROV) were conducted Tuesday and Wednesday in the area where Canadian planes recorded the sounds using sonar buoys, but so far no sign of the Titan has been found.
Coast Guard Captain Jamie Frederick told a news conference that analysis of the sounds was “inconclusive”.
“When you’re in the middle of a search and rescue incident, there’s always hope,” he said. “As for the sounds specifically, we honestly don’t know what they are.”
Even if the submersible is located, recovering it poses a major logistical challenge given the extreme conditions miles below the surface.
Teams from the US, Canada and France have used planes and ships to search more than 10,000 square miles (25,900 square kilometers) of open sea, about the size of Lebanon or the US state of Massachusetts.
The 22 foot (6.7 meter) long dive boat titaniumThe vessel, operated by US-based OceanGate Expeditions, began its descent at 8 a.m. (1200 GMT) on Sunday. During a two-hour dive to the Titanic, it lost contact with its mother ship.
According to the company, the submersible had air for 96 hours, meaning it could run out of oxygen by Thursday morning. However, experts say the air supply depends on a number of factors, including whether the submersible remains intact and still has power.
The wreck of the British ocean liner that struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage in 1912 sank to the seabed at a depth of about 12,500 feet (3,810 meters). It is approximately 900 miles (1,450 km) east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts and 400 miles south of St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Those on board the submersiblethe culmination of a tourist adventure costing $250,000 per person was British billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding, 58, and Pakistani-born businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, with his 19-year-old son Suleman, both British citizens.
Also on board were reportedly French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, and Stockton Rush, founder and CEO of OceanGate Expeditions.
A friend of Harding’s, Jannicke Mikkelsen, who has accompanied the British entrepreneur on other expeditions, told Reuters on Tuesday she hoped for good news but was not optimistic. “It would be a miracle if they were recovered alive,” she said.
Questions about the security of titanium were addressed in a 2018 lawsuit filed by David Lochridge, OceanGate’s former director of naval operations. He claimed he was fired for raising concerns that the hull could not withstand extreme depths.
In its own lawsuit against Lochridge, OceanGate said it refused to accept the chief engineer’s assurances and accused him of improperly disclosing confidential information. The two sides settled their court case in November 2018.
Neither the company nor Lochridge’s attorney have commented on the details of the dispute.
Months before the lawsuit, a group of leading dive companies wrote to OceanGate, warning that the “experimental” approach in developing the submarine could lead to “minor to catastrophic” problems, the New York Times reported.
Aaron Newman, a former titanium The passenger, who knows some of the missing people, told NBC on Wednesday that he felt safe during his dive.
“Obviously, this is the kind of exploration that makes a difference — this isn’t a Disney ride,” he said. “We go to places where very few people have gone.”
If the titanium Although the animal has managed to return to the surface, it could still be difficult to spot in open water, experts said. The submersible is bolted from the outside, making it impossible for those inside to escape without assistance.
If the titanium lies on the seabed, a rescue operation Due to the enormous pressure and total darkness at a depth of more than 3 km, this would be even more of a challenge. titanic Expert Tim Maltin said it was “nearly impossible to perform a submarine-to-submarine rescue” on the seabed.
A French research ship The submersible carrying a deep-sea diving robot was expected to arrive later on Wednesday.
The unmanned robot is able to dive as deep as possible titanic wreck and could help free the submersible if it becomes stuck, although the robot cannot lift the 21,000-pound (9,525 kg) Titan on its own. The robot could also help tether the sub to a surface vessel that can lift it, the operator said.
The sinking of titanic, which killed more than 1,500 people, has long been immortalized in books and films. Public interest was rekindled by the 1997 blockbuster film Titanic.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax and Steve Gorman; Additional reporting by Tim McLaughlin, Rami Ayyub, Tyler Clifford, Louise Dalmasso, Daniel Trotta, Brad Brooks, and Ariba Shahid; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Nick Zieminski)
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