The U.S. Coast Guard estimated Tuesday afternoon that the missing OceanGate Titan submarine should run out of breathable air by Thursday morning.
The Titan, a submersible operated by OceanGate Expeditions, went missing in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland in Canada. The submersible, designed to accommodate five people, was carrying an expedition of tourists to view the wreckage of the RMS Titanic.
The Titan submarine OceanGate has been charging tourists around $250,000 each to ride in is operated by an inexpensive video game controller, its CEO revealed in a video interview last year.
On 16 June, the expedition to Titanic departed from St John’s, Newfoundland aboard the research and expedition ship MV Polar Prince. The ship arrived at the dive site on 17 June and the dive operation began the following day at 10:30 NDT. For the first hour and a half of the descent, the Titan communicated with the Polar Prince every 15 minutes, but communication stopped after a recorded communication at 13:17 NDT. The vessel was expected to resurface at 19:40 NDT. At 20:05 EDT, authorities were notified about the incident. According to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Halifax, the Titan was reported overdue at about 22:43.
A number of errors could have occurred. One possibility is that the Titan’s communication equipment may have failed, meaning they are unable to communicate with the above-water crew but able to freely navigate. It’s also possible there is a problem with the ballast system, which controls the vessel’s descent and ascent.
Another scenario is that the Titan became “hung up on a piece of wreckage that could keep it from being able to return to the surface”. It may also have suffered damage or a mechanical failure that caused the submersible to implode or to leak and sink, or end up on the ocean floor in an immobile state.