UPDATE: The company leading the Titan submersible trip says the five missing crew members are believed to be dead.
OceanGate Expeditions on Thursday says its pilot and chief executive Stockton Rush, along with passengers Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet “have sadly been lost.”
The full statement from the company was released Thursday afternoon:
“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.
This is an extremely sad time for our dedicated employees who are exhausted and grieving deeply over this loss. The entire OceanGate family is deeply grateful for the countless men and women from multiple organisations of the international community who expedited wide-ranging resources and have worked so very hard on this mission.
We appreciate their commitment to finding these five explorers, and their days and nights of tireless work in support of our crew and their families.
This is a very sad time for the entire explorer community, and for each of the family members of those lost at sea.
We respectfully ask that the privacy of these families be respected during this most painful time.”
The company has been chronicling the Titanic’s decay and the underwater ecosystem around it via yearly voyages since 2021.
The U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday that an underwater vessel has located a debris field near the Titanic in the search for a missing submersible with five people aboard, a potential breakthrough in an increasingly urgent around-the-clock effort.
The Coast Guard’s post on Twitter gave no details, such as whether officials believe the debris is connected to the Titan, which was on an expedition to view the wreckage of the Titanic. The search passed the critical 96-hour mark Thursday when breathable air could have run out.
A debris field was discovered within the search area by an ROV near the Titanic. Experts within the unified command are evaluating the information. 1/2— USCGNortheast (@USCGNortheast) June 22, 2023
The Titan was estimated to have about a four-day supply of breathable air when it launched Sunday morning in the North Atlantic — but experts have emphasized that was an imprecise approximation to begin with and could be extended if passengers have taken measures to conserve breathable air. And it’s not known if they survived since the sub’s disappearance.
Rescuers have rushed ships, planes and other equipment to the site of the disappearance. On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard said an undersea robot sent by a Canadian ship had reached the sea floor, while a French research institute said a deep-diving robot with cameras, lights and arms also joined the operation.
Authorities are hoping underwater sounds might help narrow their search, whose coverage area has been expanded to thousands of miles — twice the size of Connecticut and in waters 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) deep. Coast Guard officials said underwater noises were detected in the search area Tuesday and Wednesday.
Jamie Pringle, an expert in Forensic Geosciences at Keele University, in England, said even if the noises came from the submersible, “The lack of oxygen is key now; even if they find it, they still need to get to the surface and unbolt it.”
The Titan was reported overdue Sunday afternoon about 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, as it was on its way to where the iconic ocean liner sank more than a century ago. OceanGate Expeditions, which is leading the trip, has been chronicling the Titanic’s decay and the underwater ecosystem around it via yearly voyages since 2021.
By Thursday morning, hope was running out that anyone on board the vessel would be found alive.