The search continues for a small deep-sea sub exploring the underwater ruins of the Titanic. The submersible vehicle is from Oceangate, a private company specializing in creating and operating experimental subs for commercial use. It took a crew of five people for an up-close commercial exploration of the Titanic on the Atlantic Ocean floor east of Boston. Two members are from Oceangate, its CEO, Stockton Rush, and the pilot of the submersible, Paul-Henri Nargeolet. The remaining people on board are the three ultra-wealthy men who funded the $250,000 per person expedition. Billionaire Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Sulaiman Dawood are from one of the most prominent families in Pakistan. Shahzada is a member of the SETI Institute in California. The final and most famous person on the submersible dubbed 'Titan' is billionaire British thrill-seeker, Hamish Harding. Harding has been to outer space, Antarctica, and is a three-time Guinness Book of World Records holder. He is also a pilot and aviation mogul mostly dealing in private jets.
Our Tim Conway Jr. spoke with Harding's close friend, astronaut Col Terry Virts. He was one of the last people to communicate with Harding before he departed on the underwater expedition. The submersible lost contact with its support ship almost two hours into its descent on June 18 and has not been heard from since. Col Virts said rescue crews have until Thursday afternoon, June 21 until the 21-foot-long sub loses oxygen. That is if the submersible is still intact. He said the sub has systems in place to automatically force it to the surface when a serious problem occurs. Col Virts also said if the sub is still functional it's most likely trapped in muck or mud and that is probably why the vessel cannot surface. Even if it does surface on its own, the sub is bolted shut from the outside and the crew would need someone else to open the hatch before they run out of oxygen. Typical submarines have an escape trunk that can be opened from the inside. They are also much larger in size than Oceangate's compact submersible.
Research crews have reported sonar picking up the sound of banging in the area off the coast of Canada, but it is still incredibly difficult to find the sub within the search area. It is also unclear if the noises are in fact coming from the missing sub. Col Virts likened the effort to trying to find a minivan in an area the size of Connecticut. While the situation is indeed bleak as the crew is potentially running out of oxygen, he is hopeful they are still alive at this stage of the search because no loud explosions or disturbances have been detected by the Coast Guard.
Only 20% of the bottom of the ocean has been mapped and even less of it has been explored. Time wanes as search crews attempt to defy the odds and find the submersible before it is too late for a successful rescue. The story of the missing sub has captured international attention as it is likely a continuation of the tragic legacy of the Titanic sinking more than 100 years ago. It is poetically eery that a crew exploring the wreckage may meet a similar fate to those who lost their lives in 1912.