Five men aboard missing Titan sub believed to be dead after ‘catastrophic implosion’ | World News

The five men onboard the missing Titan sub are believed to have died after the vessel suffered a “catastrophic implosion”.

Rear Admiral John Mauger – who led the search – confirmed that a remotely operated vehicle had discovered the nose cone of the lost submersible about 487m (1,600ft) from the bow of the Titanic on the seafloor.

Further debris was found nearby, with Rear Admiral Mauger adding: “In consultation with experts from within unified command, the debris is consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber.

“On behalf of US Coast Guard and entire unified command, I offer deepest condolences to the families. I can only imagine what this has been like for them, and I hope this discovery provides some solace during this difficult time.”

Tributes paid to Titan passengers – live updates

Titan submersible in June 2021. File pic: OceanGate Expeditions via AP.
The Titan submersible in June 2021. File pic: OceanGate Expeditions via AP

Minutes before the news conference, OceanGate – which owned the submersible – released a statement that said: “We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, have sadly been lost.

“These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans.

“Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time. We grieve the loss of life and joy they brought to everyone they knew.”

Sky’s US correspondent James Matthews – who was at the US Coast Guard’s news conference in Boston – asked Rear Admiral Mauger whether any trace of the passengers had been found.

He replied: “This is an incredibly complex operating environment on the seafloor, over two miles beneath the surface. The remote operating vehicle has been searching, and it is highly capable, and we’ve been able to classify parts of the pressure chamber for the Titan submersible.”

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‘Why were you worried about Titan?’

When asked about the prospects for recovering crew members, Rear Admiral Mauger warned, “it is an incredibly unforgiving environment on the seafloor”.

While the debris is consistent with a “catastrophic implosion” of the vessel, he stressed that it is too early to know when this happened – and underwater robots remain on scene to gather information.

“We’ll continue to work and continue to search the area down there, but I don’t have an answer for prospects at this time,” he told reporters.

Carl Hartsville, an expert from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, later added that no debris from the Titanic is based in the area.

While there had been speculation in past news conferences that underwater banging noises heard near the site could be linked to Titan, the Coast Guard said there doesn’t appear to be a connection.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said it was “tragic news” that the five men had lost their lives. Billionaire Hamish Harding – as well as businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman – were British citizens.

“The UK government is closely supporting the families affected and expresses our deepest condolences,” he added.

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‘Two friends of mine are gone’

Early on Thursday morning, it had been announced that a “debris field” had been found at the search site.

David Mearns – a rescue expert who knew two of the five men onboard – had told Sky News earlier that Titan’s landing frame and rear cover had been identified.

Five days have passed since Titan’s passengers embarked on a two-hour dive to see the wreck of the Titanic.

Teams from multiple countries had scoured thousands of square miles looking for the minivan-sized vessel.

On Wednesday, the US Coast Guard had forecast that the vessel’s air supply would run out by 12.08pm UK time today.

Finding the missing submersible in a totally dark environment was likened to discovering a needle in a haystack – and according to experts, even specialist vehicles on the seafloor can only see for a matter of metres.

Commodore David Russell, a former Royal Navy submariner, told Sky News that the evidence suggests that the Titan’s pressure hull failed – and those onboard would have lost their lives instantaneously.

Mr Harding and Mr Nargeolet were members of The Explorers Club – and in a statement, its president Richard Garriott de Cayeux said “our hearts are broken” by the tragedy.

He thanked those involved in the search and rescue effort, adding: “They were both drawn to explore, like so many of us, and did so in the name of meaningful science for the betterment of mankind.

“We’re heartbroken for the families, friends and colleagues of those who were lost. Their memories will be a blessing and will continue to inspire us in the name of science and exploration.”