Titanic misadventure: Missing Titan submersible had suffered implosion soon after dive; passengers feared dead

The intensified search for the missing submersible Titan may all be in vain, as it has been reported a few hours ago that the sub suffered an implosion on-board not long after it dived. The sub has been missing since June 18, with five passengers, on its way to visit the wreckage of the storied ship Titanic, off the East Coast of North America.

The search for the Titan submersible has involved the usual expenditure of resources and manpower, as fears grew that the people on-board might run out of oxygen. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@LaurenWitzkeDE

The search for the submersible has involved the usual massive expenditure of resources and manpower — everything from aerial scan to sonar buoys was used. The search area was expanded and more equipment was brought in as fears grew that the people on-board might run out of oxygen within hours. Now it seems certain that the implosion is the reason why the submersible, the size of a small van, went missing.

The Guardian has reported, quoting the Associated Press that the US Navy revisited its acoustic data from the time Titan was reported missing.

The submersible starting its ocean dive. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@Rap

AP said that the acoustic anomaly, as per a senior Navy official who would not be named, was “consistent with an implosion or explosion in the general vicinity of where the Titan submersible was operating when communications were lost”. The Navy has reportedly passed on the information to the US Coast Guard, which has continued the search operations.

The US Coast Guard has said that its search teams located debris on the ocean floor that appeared consistent with a “catastrophic implosion” of the missing submersible.

The passengers on-board were: Stockton Rush, 61, CEO of OceanGate, the company that operated the Titan submersible; British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48; his son Suleman Dawood, 19; British businessman Hamish Harding, 58; and former French Navy diver and explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet, 77. Harding is believed to have worked with India on Project Cheetah, the Central government effort to reintroduce the animal in the Indian forests.

Left to right: British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood; son Suleman Dawood; French explorer and diver Paul-Henry Nargeolet; OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush; and British businessman Hamish Harding. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@PopCrave

Filmmaker James Cameron struck by similarity between Titan and Titanic

Hollywood director James Cameron, who had made the blockbuster film Titanic some two decades ago, said that he was finding it hard to process the news, as French diver “PH Nargeolet” was a friend of his. The filmmaker said on television that he was struck by the similarity between the fate of the submersible Titan and of the ship Titanic itself.

Cameron said that he had dived down a number of times to the Titanic wreckage while making the film, and that he understood the engineering requirements of a deep-diving submersible. 

Talking about the reported implosion, the filmmaker and explorer talked about the “pressure boundary”, the hull of the sub that had to withstand the crushing undersea pressure and protect the passengers inside. He mentioned all the computer calculations and testing that would go into creating the pressure boundary. In the case of the Titan, the filmmaker indicated that the correct safety standards were not maintained, despite multiple warnings to the submersible operating company.

It was “surreal” that Titan should be destroyed at the exact site of the Titanic wreckage simply because the submersible company ignored the warnings, just as the ship’s captain did all those years ago, said the filmmaker.