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Search continues for Titanic-bound submarine carrying 5 people

A search and rescue operation is underway to locate a submarine that went missing on Sunday during a tourist expedition to the wreckage of the Titanic.

The U.S. and Canadian coast guards were looking for the submarine on Monday after it disappeared during a voyage that began in St. John's, N.L. The infamous 1912 wreck is located more than 600 kilometres southeast of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic Ocean.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, surface crews lost contact with the submersible approximately one hour and 45 minutes after it descended into a remote area of the ocean on Sunday morning.

"Yesterday afternoon, we were notified by the operator of the submersible vessel that it was overdue and it had five persons on board," Rear Admiral John Mauger, commander of the Boston-based First Coast Guard District, said at a press conference on Monday. "We're working very closely at this point to make sure that we're doing everything that we can do to locate the submersible and rescue those onboard."

Mauger, who is leading the search and rescue effort, said U.S. and Canadian aircraft are already scouring the scene while coast guard vessels from both countries were also en route.

"Oftentimes, we rely on commercial operators to be the first vessels on scene, and so we've been in touch with additional commercial vessels that are operating in the area," Mauger explained. "Adding to the complexity of this case is the fact that this was a submersible vessel, and so we need to make sure that we're looking both on the surface for the vessel… but we're also having to search in the water column."

The British liner Titanic sails out of Southampton, England, at the start of its doomed voyage on April 10, 1912. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP

The trip to the Titanic is being run by OceanGate Expeditions, a U.S.-based company. It uses a five-person submersible named Titan to reach the wreckage 3,800 metres below the surface. OceanGate's website advertises a seven-night voyage to the Titanic for US$250,000 per person, or approximately C$330,000. OceanGate says the fees from "mission specialists" underwrite expeditions to document and model the expansive wreck site. The submersible was deployed from a ship named the Polar Prince.

Made of carbon fibre and titanium, the 6.7-metre-long Titan can provide oxygen and life support for up to 96 hours, or four days, according to OceanGate. The Titan usually carries a pilot and four passengers.

"We are exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely," an OceanGate spokesperson said in an email to CTV News on Monday. "Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families."

OceanGate has been operating expeditions to the Titanic since 2021.

"We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to re-establish contact with the submersible," the company spokesperson said. "We are working toward the safe return of the crewmembers."

A search for the missing submarine is being conducted in a remote part of the Atlantic Ocean about 1,450 kilometres off Cape Cod.

Although the expedition departed from Canada, the Titanic wreck lies within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard's Boston fleet.

Canada's Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax has tasked a CP-140 Aurora aircraft to join the U.S.-led search effort. The Aurora has submarine detection capabilities and has reportedly been dropping sonar buoys to listen for the lost submersible. At least two U.S. C-130 Hercules aircraft are also using radar and visually scouring the surface while ships like the Canadian Coast Guard Vessel Kopit Hopson 1752 and other assets head to the scene.

"Those assets would be able to detect it and render assistance if it reaches the surface on its own," Andrew Norris, a retired U.S. Coast Guard captain, told CTV News Channel on Monday. "Other than that, though, if it's a rescue operation to recover it from some depth… to put together a rescue operation down to the seabed, if in fact that's what has to happen, that's an infinitely more difficult proposition."

Titanic expert Larry Daley, who spent 12 hours exploring the wreck in a submersible in 2003, is hopeful that the search and rescue mission will be successful. He says the biggest challenge will be the submersible's depth.

"Deep submersible diving is very dangerous, but it's high-tech," Daley told CTV affiliate NTV in St. John's. "We have our own breathing system on-board and if that's maintained properly, like changing your filter and your CO2 scrubber, you can stay down there for quite a few hours."


On June 17, the chairman of a business aviation company wrote that he would be going in the submersible early Sunday morning.

"We started steaming from St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada yesterday and are planning to start dive operations around 4am tomorrow morning," Hamish Harding wrote on Facebook on Saturday. "The team on the sub has a couple of legendary explorers, some of which have done over 30 dives to the RMS Titanic since the 1980s including PH Nargeolet."

Paul-Henry (PH) Nargeolet is a French explorer and leading expert on the Titanic, who has visited the wreck multiple times.

Harding was also a passenger on the fifth manned space flight from Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin company. The reported billionaire and explorer also holds three Guinness World Records, including two made in 2021 when he and investor Victor Vescovo spent four hours and 15 minutes travelling along the deepest part of the ocean.

Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, members of one of Pakistan's prominent families, were also on board, according to a family statement sent to The Associated Press.


Another purported passenger on the Polar Prince ship turned to social media to let people know he was safe.

"We are all focused on board here for our friends," Rory Golden wrote on Facebook on Monday. "The reaction and offers of help globally is truly astonishing, and only goes to show the real goodness in people at a time like this."

The Polar Prince ship supporting the Titanic expedition is operated by Horizon Maritime.

"Miawpukek Horizon Maritime Services is supporting its client OceanGate Expeditions in the response effort for this incident," the company said in a statement to CTV News. "The Polar Prince is the support vessel for this expedition. We are working closely with authorities on the search and rescue effort."

Just after 9 p.m. Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard said surface searches would continue "throughout the evening" while Canadian craft will resume subsurface searches Tuesday morning.

With files from The Associated Press. Top Stories

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