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Titanic sub live updates: no sign of vessel as search continues but ‘banging noises’ heard, says US Coast Guard | Titanic sub incident

Opening summary

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the search for the submersible vessel Titan that went missing during a voyage to the wreck of the Titanic with five people onboard.

Rescue teams are continuing the search for the OceanGate Expeditions tourist submersible, which was reported overdue on Sunday evening about 435 miles south of St John’s, Newfoundland.

Those onboard Titan are believed to be British billionaire Hamish Harding, 58; Pakistani-born businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, with his 19-year-old son Suleman, who are both British citizens; French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77; and Stockton Rush, founder and CEO of OceanGate Expeditions.

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Authorities have not confirmed the identity of any passenger. On Tuesday, officials estimated the five people onboard had about 40 hours of breathable air remaining.

We’ll bring you updates on the search as they happen.

Key events

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The Titan could be in extremely deep water: the wreck of the Titanic, where the submersible with its five passengers was heading, has lain on the seabed at a depth of 3,800 metres since the liner struck an iceberg and sank in 1912.

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Graphic showing depth of Titanic

Search teams have detected underwater sounds, the US Coast Guard has said, as the clock ticked down to the last 24 hours of the craft’s presumed oxygen supply.

Canadian aircraft detected the sounds, the Coast Guard said. Robotic undersea search operations have been diverted to the area but there was still no tangible sign of the Titan, it added.

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OceanGate Expeditions, which operates the Titan, was repeatedly warned that there might be catastrophic safety problems posed by the way it was developed, the Associated Press has reported.

The undersea exploration company, based in Everett, Washington, has been making yearly voyages to the Titanic since 2021.

David Lochridge, OceanGate’s director of marine operations, wrote an engineering report in 2018 that said the craft under development needed more testing and that passengers might be endangered when it reached “extreme depths,” according to a lawsuit filed that year in the US District Court in Seattle.

OceanGate sued Lochridge that year, accusing him of breaching a non-disclosure agreement, and he filed a counterclaim alleging that he was wrongfully fired for raising questions about testing and safety. The case settled on undisclosed terms several months after it was filed.

Lochridge’s concerns mainly focused on the company’s decision to rely on sensitive acoustic monitoring — cracking or popping sounds made by the hull under pressure — to detect flaws, rather than a scan of the hull.

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Lochridge said the company told him no equipment existed that could perform such a test on the 5-inch-thick (12.7-centimeter-thick) carbon-fiber hull.

“This was problematic because this type of acoustic analysis would only show when a component is about to fail — often milliseconds before an implosion — and would not detect any existing flaws prior to putting pressure onto the hull,” Lochridge’s counterclaim said.

Further, the craft was designed to reach depths of 4,000 meters (13,123 feet), where the Titanic rested. But, according to Lochridge, the passenger viewport was only certified for depths of up to 1,300 meters (4,265 feet), and OceanGate would not pay for the manufacturer to build a viewport certified for 4,000 meters.

OceanGate’s choices would “subject passengers to potential extreme danger in an experimental submersible,” the counterclaim said.

However, the company said in its complaint that Lochridge “is not an engineer and was not hired or asked to perform engineering services on the Titan.”

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Here’s a recap of developments overnight:

  • Underwater noises have been detected by a Canadian aircraft in the search area for the missing submersible, according to the US Coast Guard. Searches yielded negative results but will continue. The data has been shared with the US Navy experts for further analysis, the Coast Guard said.

  • Search crews have heard banging sounds at 30-minute intervals, according to US media. CNN and Rolling Stone cited internal government memos saying banging had been detected, and reported that after additional devices were deployed four hours later, noises were still heard. The memos did not clarify when on Tuesday the banging was heard, or for how long.

  • The Explorers Club, of which two passengers in the missing sub are members, says there is “cause for hope” based on field data, asserting that “likely signs of life have been detected at the site”.

  • The submersible’s hatch appears to be bolted from the outside. So even if the sub has surfaced and is spotted by search operations, the danger is not over, as the crew inside would still need to rely on emergency oxygen to breathe until the hatch is opened by rescue teams.

  • So far, more than 25,900 square kilometres of sea has been searched by aircraft for the missing vessel – part of a unified command of aircraft and ships of the US Coast Guard, US Navy, Canadian Coast Guard and OceanGate Expedition.

Opening summary

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the search for the submersible vessel Titan that went missing during a voyage to the wreck of the Titanic with five people onboard.

Rescue teams are continuing the search for the OceanGate Expeditions tourist submersible, which was reported overdue on Sunday evening about 435 miles south of St John’s, Newfoundland.

Those onboard Titan are believed to be British billionaire Hamish Harding, 58; Pakistani-born businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, with his 19-year-old son Suleman, who are both British citizens; French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77; and Stockton Rush, founder and CEO of OceanGate Expeditions.

Authorities have not confirmed the identity of any passenger. On Tuesday, officials estimated the five people onboard had about 40 hours of breathable air remaining.

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We’ll bring you updates on the search as they happen.

Jon Henley

Published: 2023-06-21 08:15:47

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